Feeling savage? Learn to throw axes at new Amherst Plaza sports facility

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Kristin Bauer | Chronicle
Andrew Losse, a co-owner of Savage Society Axe Throwing, demonstrates how an ax is thrown down one of the lanes at the facility on Thursday, Feb. 7.

JASON HAWK
EDITOR

Stepping forward and swinging his arms down in one smooth motion, Drew Losse sent a hatchet flying toward its target Friday.

It sailed end over end down the lane and landed dead center with a satisfying thunk.

“You feel as soon as the ax leaves your hand whether it’s a good throw or a bad throw,” said Losse.

He and “axperts” Amanda Trowbridge, Willie Trowbridge and Anna Losse plan to open Savage Society Axe Throwing this March in the Amherst Plaza.

The indoor sports facility promises nine indoor ax throwing lanes, arcade basketball, pool and music. There will also be a VIP room in the back with two private lanes for parties.

The Amherst-based Trowbridges and Macedonia-bases Losses will teach players to throw axes with precision, and plan to get local folks started in World Axe Throwing League play.

They’re great instructors — editor Jason Hawk scored three points on his first throw, and photographer Kristin Bauer effortlessly hit the center for six.

“It’s an awesome feeling. It’s an adrenaline rush,” Willie Trowbridge said. “There’s nothing quite like it.”

The Savage Society owners threw axes for the first time three years ago at a bachelor party. They had such a good time they decided to go into business themselves.

They started mobile operations last year, taking a trailer all over Northeast Ohio for parties, fairs, festivals and fundraisers.

Now they’re renovating the former Bobel’s Office Supply and then the Recycled Kids consignment shop at 1937 Cooper Foster Park Rd.

HOW TO PLAY

First, don’t worry. Everyone will get a quick training lesson when they visit Savage Society, unless they’re regulars who know the game inside out.

You start 12 feet out from the target, feet spread and one slightly forward.

Hold the hatchet in front of you, hands even on the handle and with a loose grip, not white-knuckled.

It’s not like throwing a baseball — you don’t twist your body into it, nor do you put all your heft into the throw.

Instead, you step forward and bring your hands down over your head, letting the handle slip away naturally.

“You don’t flick it, bop it or twist it. You just send it,” Willie Trowbridge said.

If you do it right, the ax head will spin like it should, and thunk solidly into the wood target.

The first rule? Don’t be an idiot, he said. Use common sense, be safe and listen to the staff’s advice.

The axperts said people always have the first-throw jitters, thinking the metal blade is going to bounce back. Any kind of bounce is extremely rare, they said — you don’t have to duck and cover when you throw.

A game is 10 throws. The closer to the center you strike, the more points you get.

There’s some strategy involved, too. On the fifth throw, you can gamble on your accuracy, and call out for small blue targets to the left and right. Hitting the “kill shot” will net eight points.

PERSONALIZE IT

Once you’ve learned the basics, you can go pretty deep into the world of custom axes.

There are personalized ax heads, handles and holsters that can be shaped and engraved to your liking.

Of course, there are also some rules — your ax has to come within a set range of lengths and weights. But the Savage Society crew said the sport is as much about personal expression as it is about skill.

What makes it great, they said, is that you can buy a hatchet at any hardware store and be ready to throw.