Chucking sharpened axes around after getting on the grog doesn’t sound like a safe pastime. But three axe-throwing clubs around Australia that have all just applied for liquor licences insist that the two can coexist safely, while further increasing the popularity of the small but growing sport.
“It really adds to the atmosphere and makes everyone much more relaxed,” said Dee Cotter, the operations manager of the Maniax clubs in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. “And we’re thinking of limiting alcohol to two drinks per person.
“But whatever we decide, it’s obviously something that we’ll monitor very closely. In Canada and America, where axe throwing is very big, a lot of the clubs are licensed and there’s never been an issue.”
Axe throwing – throwing household axes at a wooden target from a distance – has become a major sport in Canada, where there are competitions and intensely-fought league titles.
In Australia, the activity is still considered very much in its infancy, and is usually undertaken as a fun night out for bucks’ and hens’ nights, corporate-bonding sessions and individuals and couples taking part in tournaments.
In Sydney, the club that has been operating in St Peters for the past three years has just put in for its licence with the Inner West Council – applying to modify its planning consent to delete the provision that bans alcohol.
In Melbourne it’s done the same for its club in Abbotsford, which opened in April this year, and it’s also applying to serve alcohol at the month-old Brisbane premises in Newstead.
Maniax is planning to open a fourth club in Adelaide next year but no decision has yet been made on whether it will apply for that to be licensed.
Sydney’s Inner West Council confirmed it had an application to allow the service of alcohol at Maniax. A spokesperson said the application was on an extended notification, between December 6 to January 24, because of the holiday period.
“The application is in its early stages of assessment and the assessment cannot be completed until after the notification period,” she said.
Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne is keeping an open mind. “Obviously axe throwing and alcohol don’t mix, but I have no axe to grind when it comes to having a beer or a glass of wine after someone has finished their throwing session,” he said.
Maniax had to fight hard for permission to set up in Sydney, where it took about a year to win permission, after a number of safety objections were made by neighbours and councillors. In the end, the club was allowed to go ahead, after installing a gun safe to store the axes, lowering the venue capacity from 70 to 45, putting metal cages around the lanes, and banning alcohol.
It took a similar period before the Melbourne venue was allowed to open, as the application went to a tribunal hearing. However, the Brisbane venue was approved relatively quickly.
Now the club hopes the hatchet has been buried deeply enough to revisit the question of alcohol.
Sydney manager Harriet Gordon-Anderson said they routinely received inquiries about whether they served alcohol, and because of that they decided to give it a go.
“We have a lot of people coming here who are celebrating something, or corporate Christmas parties at this time of year, so it would really add to the occasion,” she said.
“All our staff are trained in the responsible service of alcohol and it would help to make it a more mainstream activity. It’s a really fun activity and it’s very empowering, in a bad-ass kind of way, and we’re very focused on safety and coaching.”