By: Robert Shawn Andrews
Jack Axes has become a must-see destination and attraction in the heart of downtown St. John’s.
When thinking about the “must see” attractions in St. John’s, your mind probably goes straight to something like Signal Hill, or maybe George Street. But one establishment in downtown St. John’s that has quickly solidified its reputation as a “must see” is Jack Axes Inc.
A Rising Sport
Recently awarded TripAdvisor’s “Certificate of Excellence,” Jack Axes Inc. is Newfoundland’s first and only axe throwing bar. Patrons can come in for a pint of locally crafted beer, and then spend an hour or two tossing axes at wooden targets.
Landing your axe into the bullseye requires a little practice, but it’s not a skill reserved strictly for the talented. The idea may seem unusual, but when you ultimately break down the game of darts as throwing a sharp object at a target, axe throwing is not too far off. Co-owner Adrian Beaton has managed to take a backwoods idea and turn it into a sport that is poised to take over the world.
Recreational and competitive axe throwing is actually just as Canadian as ice hockey and poutine. The idea originated in a backyard in Toronto over 10 years ago, and through word of mouth, quickly grew into a viable business venture.
Adrian Beaton and his business partner Paul MacInnis decided to bring the concept of axe throwing to Newfoundland back in 2016, and business has been flourishing ever since.
“The idea is so unique that it does pique the public’s curiosity,” he says of Jack Axes’ success. “Once we get a person through the door, they keep coming back. There were hurdles in the beginning in trying to get people in, but now there is no sign of slowing down.”
With his business solidified, Beaton looked to the future of axe throwing as a whole and became one of the founders of the World Axe Throwing League.
“Setting up the World Axe Throwing League was the next logical step towards the growth of the sport.” Beaton says. “There were approximately 10 to 15 fellow axe throwers from all over Canada and the U.S. that came together to discuss the rules, regulations and safety protocols in order to compete worldwide in a unified manner.”
Aptly named the World Axe Throwing League now houses close to 100 members and businesses from throughout Canada, the Unites States, Russia, Brazil, China and areas of Europe.
The formation of the World Axe Throwing League led to the creation of the WATL U.S. Open, scheduled to take place from August 12-15 in Chicago. As a member of the World Axe Throwing League, Jack Axes is sending Anthony MacDonald of Bay Bulls to the U.S. Open to represent Newfoundland. Anthony, like many who hear you can legally throw an axe at something in St. John’s, was curious and excited towards the concept of Jack Axes, and after trying it for the first time, signed up for one of Jack Axes’ competitive leagues in order to hone his craft.
“I threw for 30 minutes the first time I stepped inside Jack Axes and didn’t land a single axe,” he notes with a laugh. “It’s a little intimidating heading to this kind of competition. I mean I do okay, but I don’t win every game. I’ll put that mentality aside though. I’ll do my best.”
MacDonald credits patience and practice for his improvement within the sport, and aims to continue working towards making himself better. “What I want is to beat the guys who beat me and ultimately get my name on a championship cup.”
Beaton hopes the success of the U.S. Open could potentially lead to a similar competition in Canada next year, and he feels there is no better place for such an event than right here in St. John’s.
“There are some barriers in the way of this becoming a reality, but I have already spoke with the World Axe Throwing League commissioner and placed an ‘informal’ bid. To me, Newfoundland is the physical embodiment of what urban axe throwing represents. The island is so unique and rugged that I think other axe throwers will identify with this place.”
Growth of the Sport
After first sharpening their axes two years ago, Beaton and his partner have been revelling in the growth and ongoing business of the sport. They have opened a second location in Kentville, Nova Scotia and just announced their third is set to open in Halifax in the near future.
“We are fortunate in that this is a sport that is just getting off the ground and we are involved at the beginning of it. I think it is only going to get bigger and you are only going to hear more about it.”
Jack Axes is located at 152 Water Street in St. John’s. For more information, visit their website at www.jackaxesinc.com or call 221-6525.