I never considered trying axe throwing until I saw the Bellingham Axe website, and became intrigued by the bold, all-caps “No Experience Necessary” on the front page. “If you can lift 1.5 pounds above your head,” the site says, “you can throw an axe”. And who wouldn’t want to hurl an axe at a wooden wall target? So I rounded up a small group, donned my finest flannel, and away we went to blow off some steam.
Opened in June 2020, Bellingham Axe is a new destination for beginners and experienced axe throwers alike. Here’s what to expect for first-timers from this extremely fun and approachable activity in downtown Bellingham.
Bellingham Axe is housed in a sprawling basement beneath street level on Cornwall Avenue. Built in 1912 by the Elks Club, the historic building’s basement was originally used as a bowling alley.
Descending into the basement today, you’ll notice colorful graffiti on the walls, dim lights, and high ceilings. It’s easy to imagine this space as a bowling alley, especially with its 16 lanes. But you won’t find any bowling balls or pins — just axes, knives, and targets!
Throwing Axes (and knives)
I made an advance reservation online to guarantee our spot at Bellingham Axe. When we arrived, we were greeted by helpful staff members who asked us to sign waivers before a quick demonstration. They walked us through how to hold a throwing axe, where to stand, and some simple rules. Turns out it’s more about technique than strength. This was reassuring for our group of beginners and we found that axe throwing is pretty straightforward. Imagine darts, but with hatchets.
Our first throws were a bit clumsy, but after a few minutes, we began to get the hang of it. I picked up a cold steel axe and hucked it at the target. Too high — it bounced off the wall and clattered to the floor. The staff gave our group some pointers and we tried a few more times, eventually managing to stick the target with a satisfying thud. Soon we were landing bullseyes.
Overall, there was no pressure and once you get past the initial learning curve, it’s fun to introduce the competitive element of scoring. Bellingham Axe staff are also happy to teach your group a few games to play. If axes aren’t your thing and you’re looking for something different, you can toss throwing knives as well!
Kids at Bellingham Axe
According to the Bellingham Axe website, “you must be at least 8 years old to participate and all minors must be accompanied by an adult. People of all ages are welcome to spectate!”
My 6- and 10-year old nieces participated by tossing foam suction “axes” at the elevator door. They were also able to watch the adults from a viewing area — located a safe distance behind axe throwers.
Pricing and Offerings
Like bowling, you can book a private lane for your group. Bellingham Axe also hosts leagues, parties, and corporate events. Axe throwing costs $20/person for 1 hour, $25/person for 1.5 hours, or $30/person for 2 hours.
We booked 1 hour and found that it was enough time for our small group to get the hang of axe throwing and have some fun. More experienced throwers may want to book a longer time slot for practice and group games.
Bellingham Axe offers snacks and non-alcoholic drinks for purchase. Alcohol is not allowed, but you are welcome to bring your own food. Consider ordering takeout from one of Bellingham’s many downtown restaurants.
Safety and Covid-19 Precautions
Closed-toe shoes are required for axe throwing, but you don’t need to bring anything else besides comfy clothes and your mask.
During Phase 2 of the Washington State Safe Start plan to reopen during the pandemic, face coverings are required in all public spaces. Bellingham Axe is a large indoor space and the private lanes make it possible to maintain 6 feet of social distancing between users.