Has cornhole lost its edge? Does tossing darts no longer provide the rush it once did?
If so, Ashley Brennan and Trever Lambert may create the perfect adrenaline surge. The Boise residents are transforming a former cross-fit gym at West Overland and North Five Mile roads into Idaho’s first ax-throwing arena.
Section 37 Axe Room is scheduled to open Nov. 10. With 3,701 square feet of space, the venue will feature nine lanes with 18 targets, so pairs or teams can compete against each other, throwing at targets 12 feet away. There will be chain-link fencing that separates the throwing lanes and soundproofing to muffle the sounds from the axes hitting the targets so it doesn’t disturb shoppers and workers at the Dollar Store next door.
Players toss hand axes that weigh about three pounds apiece. They can throw the axes with one hand or two. They can even throw two at once, Brennan said. Hitting the bullseye in the center is worth five points, with four concentric circles spreading from there worth one to four points.
“It seems hard at first but probably after about 15 minutes we were hitting where we wanted to,” said Brennan, 34, who first tried out the sport with Lambert, 45, her fiance, in July in Denver. “Even when I was throwing and hitting the wall, it was super fun.”
Ax throwing has been a popular staple of lumberjack competitions for decades, including Meadows Valley Days held in New Meadows over Labor Day weekend. Its history as a business venture is much shorter.
Matt Wilson, a Toronto bartender, is considered the father of ax-throwing venues. He set up a target, formed a league and drew crowds that overwhelmed his backyard. In 2011 he moved to a 1,200-square-foot warehouse.
He now operates 13 ax-throwing arenas in Canada.
Ax throwing later spread to the United States and has moved west from the East Coast over the past few years, Brennan said.
Four ax-throwing arenas have opened in Utah, in Salt Lake City and three cities within 40 miles of there. Brennan said she and Lambert tried to visit three of them during a midweek visit in August, but they were so busy they couldn’t book any throwing time.
Section 37 Axe Room will have five employees who will explain safety procedures and provide guidance for novice throwers. Brennan, who works for David Evans and Associates, a transportation consulting company, and Lambert, who works for Idaho Power, will keep their day jobs.
The arena will be open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, 5 p.m. to midnight on Fridays, noon to midnight on Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. It will be closed Mondays and Tuesday.
Rates will be $20 per hour for walk-in customers, with a $5 discount for military members and first responders. Customers who visit a website that’s still being developed can reserve a two-hour block for $35. A Twitter account has been established at https://twitter.com/section37boise.
And what’s the story behind the name, Section 37?
“In lumberjack lore, section 37 is basically like the twilight zone,” Brennan said. “In a township range section there’s not 37 sections. There’s only 36. So whenever anything crazy is happening, they called it Section 37.”