Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

For a Relaxing Night Out, Throw Axes at the Wall

A trip to LumberjAxes, the competitive axe-throwing spot in Millvale.

photos by sean collier


LumberjAxes is great. You should go there.

I am not saying this simply because I emerged as the champion of the group, besting my foes in a single-elimination tournament after several hard-fought battles. The fact that I discovered a heretofore-unknown proficiency at the sport of axe-throwing, while delightful, is not the reason I am recommending you take part in this activity.

Would I like to make it abundantly clear that I am very good at hurling axes at a target? Am I determined to ensure that you, the reader of this post, retain the knowledge that I not only defeated six competitors at the sport of axe-throwing, but did so in dramatic fashion involving a well-timed and precisely placed bullseye in the ultimate round? Yes and yes.

I would, however, be recommending LumberjAxes to you even if I had lost. (Which I didn’t. I won, to be clear.)

Freshly opened in the corner of Millvale that also houses Grist House Craft Brewery, LumberjAxes is a spartan business housed in a former warehouse. A long row of axe-throwing lanes lines one wall; think of the basic layout of a bowling alley, but with shorter lanes. A group of picnic tables, from which you can distribute beverages (LumberjAxes is BYOB) to your group, sits to one side.

On arrival, your group — a minimum of six people — will sign a waiver and be taught how to safely and accurately throw axes. Everyone gets a few warm-up rounds to get the hang of it; the motion required is a bit counter-intuitive, almost purely relying on momentum rather than arm strength or power.

Once everyone is reasonably familiar with the basics, head-to-head competition begins; your instructor will draw the matchups and keep score, freeing you from the burden and allowing pure focus on your game. The early rounds determine seeding for a single-elimination tournament; by the end of the session (which lasts more than two hours), one of your number will be declared the victor.

(To reiterate: That was me. I was the victor.)

LumberjAxes will scratch the same group-outing itch that bowling or mini-golf does, albeit with a much more uncommon skill. But the stroke of genius here is having a dedicated instructor. At similar activities, time and effort can be poured into managing the rules and scoring; disagreements over how seriously to take the proceedings can drag down an afternoon, as those just out to goof around and those with a competitive spirit can disagree (to say the least). Here, all that is taken care of; you must simply be ready to throw when your instructor calls you over, and all the scoring decisions and rule-following is out of your hands. Compared to this, bowling can be positively stressful.

There is undoubted joy, as well, in the action of axe-throwing. Taking an inert and imposing tool and turning into not only a projectile, but one that even the novice can aim with accuracy, is remarkably satisfying; most of my group was eager to return as soon as we departed, and several of us continued to discuss throwing motion and technique into the evening.

As to the BYOB aspect: I would heavily advise against drinking more than a round or two. While the instructors are remarkably good at making sure you’re safe and responsible, there is still a weapon at hand; you don’t want to be sloppy, here. Taking a few six-packs among a large group is a fine idea, though (or, better yet, fill up a growler at Grist House on your way in).

At $35 per person (or $20 for one-hour, walk-in sessions), it’s a more expensive outing than a trip to the bowling alley. But for the extra cash, you’re gaining a memorable and rare experience and learning a skill that could easily develop into a hobby (LumberjAxes is in the process of setting up league play).

It’s a great way to spend an afternoon. Particularly if you find that you’re the best at throwing axes in your group of friends. Just like I did. I was the best one. I threw the hell outta some axes.

(I am not at all used to being good at an athletic activity, by the way, and I’m not sure how to handle it. Am I gloating? Nah. Probably not.)


Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Pittsburgh's Can't Miss Concerts in April

This month's lineup includes Rick Astley, Billy Price, Christopher Cross and Ronnie Milsap.

Pittsburgh Flicks and Nightlife in April

Tour local social clubs with the Roaming Social Club; expect changes at AMC Waterfront

April: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh

Check out some of the finest stage plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.

Undercover: What We're Reading in April

A look back at "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" as it turns 30, plus two literary events coming up in April.

Perspectives: ‘This Is Us’ Is a Story of Us

A former Pittsburgher finds more than a few similarities between his own life and that of the siblings on "This Is Us."

Spare Change: A New Way of Giving

A local group is using music and some spare change to help charities — and filming every step of the way.

Look How Mighty This Bellevue Garden Has Grown

Last season, the Rosalinda Sauro Sirianni Garden produced 4,862 pounds of food; the harvest was donated to three food pantries.

When and Where to Dump Your Junk (including old TVs)

A state environmental agency wants to help you recycle your hard-to-dispose-of household clutter.

Watch: Trailer of “Won't You Be My Neighbor”

The documentary about Mister Rogers' iconic show takes viewers beyond the cardigan collection and into “the heart of a creative genius.”

On a Lark: Pittsburgh Mom Creates Activewear for Babes

Unable to find cute, environmentally friendly gear for her newborn son, Lark Adventurewear founder Pallavi Golla launched her own line of moisture-wicking clothing for kids.

Pittsburgh MultiStories: The Beacon's Perch – The Grant Building

When it opened in 1929 as the city’s tallest structure, crowds of sightseers paid a quarter to visit the rooftop observation deck of the Grant Building — named for the street, which was named for the hill, which was named for the somewhat hapless general.

Rick Sebak Digs Up Distant Carnegie-Trump Connection

Research into Andrew Carnegie’s marriage reveals an unlikely, albeit tenuous, connection between the Pittsburgh icon and the 45th President.

JuJu Smith-Schuster Teams Up with Drake, Travis Scott and Ninja to Play Fortnite

Drake and Ninja broke Twitch viewing records, and Smith-Schuster and Scott joined in later.

Growing Up: mossArchitects Moving to Garfield

Principal Andrew Moss says his architecture firm will move to the heart of the Penn Avenue Arts District after outgrowing its current space in Lawrenceville.

Teaching Cyber Safety - The Things You Might Not Know

iQ:smartparent’s Cyber Safety segment offers advice on topics such as what to do with “sexted” images you find on your kids’ phones and more.