The Bad Axe Throwing location in Fresno officially opens with an open house Feb. 8-11. Image via Bad Axe Throwing
Written by Gabriel Dillard
The ax-throwing trend has finally spun its way to Fresno.
Bad Axe Throwing is debuting its new location at 3132 N. Palm Ave. with an open-house weekend Feb. 8-10. Budding lumberjacks can come out that weekend to toss axes at wooden targets for free.
Mario Zelaya, Bad Axe Throwing’s founder and CEO, said social media chatter and requests from Fresno residents indicated a local demand for the fast-growing sport. Already, around 500 people have submitted Facebook RSVPs for the open house. Zelaya expects that number to ultimately reach about 1,500.
“It had always been on our radar,” Zelaya said of Fresno. “It meets all the right check boxes for a place to be in the U.S.”
Bad Axe Throwing was born in Zelaya’s home of southern Ontario, Canada, in 2014 as a backyard hobby. Since then, the corporately owned chain has grown to about 25 locations in the U.S. and Canada, with another eight locations in the pipeline. He expects to add a dozen new locations this year.
Bad Axe Throwing also has locations in San Diego and San Francisco.
While some people might envision ax throwing as a free-for-all with sharp hatchets flying hither and yon, with its lanes, teams, leagues and global competition, its actually closer to another well-known sport.
“It’s a cooler version of bowling,” Zelaya said. “I just don’t think bowling has that cool, edgy factor.”
Zelaya said the Fresno location will create about seven new jobs to start, and the interview process is currently ongoing. Each throwing lane is supervised, and in addition to ensuring a safe experience, employees are also tasked with showing patrons a good time. Zelaya said the goal is to create an environment not unlike a casino craps table, with onlookers cheering the shooter on.
Bad Axe Throwing is currently in the process of securing a license to serve beer and wine. Groups are also allowed to bring their own food and drinks. And while that may seem like a recipe for serious injury, Zelaya said employees will be coached to ensure intoxicated patrons aren’t allowed to throw.
“This is a place to have a social drink or two with friends,” Zelaya said.
Continuing on the safety theme, Zelaya said of an estimated half a million customers who have passed through a Bad Axe Throwing facility, there have been zero serious injuries, short of a stray splinter from a wooden target.
He did have one warning for potential customers –trust the employees when they tell you the axes are sharp, and don’t try to check for yourself.
While individuals can walk in and start throwing for $20 an hour, a major component of the business are group and even corporate events. Zelaya estimated 30-40 percent of his business comes from team building exercises, year-end company holiday parties and people trying to show a potential client a unique experience instead of hitting the golf course.
Zelaya said there are no age restrictions on throwing. He said they have had kids as young as 8-years-old. In fact, his 4-year-old son enjoys the sport “although he can’t quite stick it yet,” he said.
Construction is ongoing at the Bad Axe Throwing Fresno location at the southeast corner of Palm and Shields avenues, in a former storefront that housed Steven’s Bicycle Shop.
For more information, visit the Bad Axe Throwing website.