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The Short Version: Couples looking for an exciting way to spend a date night can visit Stumpy’s Hatchet House, where they can throw axes together. Stumpy’s Hatchet House offers a memorable and fun experience for couples and friends and has 27 locations throughout the United States — and counting. All locations are open with extensive health precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Safety is paramount at Stumpy’s Hatchet House, so couples can feel relaxed while throwing axes or having a beer and a conversation.
Try something new. It’s one of the oldest pieces of advice for picking an interesting date activity, whether it’s a first night out together or some special time away from the kids. For couples who feel like they’ve done it all, throwing axes together at Stumpy’s Hatchet House may offer a unique experience.
The lumberjack-style sport takes couples back in time to a vintage era, but it’s not just for rustic hipsters. Today, axe throwing has become a popular and exhilarating way to enjoy the company of that special someone on date night.
Two couples came up with the idea of opening the first Stumpy’s Hatchet House location when they realized there weren’t any fun axe throwing establishments in the United States. Today, Stumpy’s Hatchet House has 27 locations throughout the United States, with more planned to open soon. And each spot is naturally designed for social distancing since guests reserve private throwing pits.
“We’re definitely big on dates, and we often rent private pits to two people,” said Kelly Josberger, Co-Founder of Stumpy’s Hatchet House. “We’ve always been that way. We’re not going to combine groups. You can learn a new skill and throw for a while, and then sit down and have a glass of beer or wine, and then go back to throwing.”
It may seem like a strange activity at first, but that advice about new activities and skills learned together as a couple holds true. Adding in the sense of danger — even in a completely safe environment — can spice up a date and ensure a truly memorable night.
Kelly said the idea for Stumpy’s Hatchet House started five years ago when her husband and their business partner were cutting up firewood for the chiminea. The guys started a game to see who could throw an axe with more precision. Then, the ladies got involved, and competition heated up.
They found themselves on double dates spending a lot of time throwing axes at a stump. It turns out it was a lot more fun than scrolling through social media or sitting around.
“It was like cornhole; we had fun playing it to kill time,” Kelly said. “We thought we could do something with it. People are so into technology, and they’re not as social as they used to be. It’s gotten worse in the last five years.”
The couples started to research the industry, which hadn’t gained popularity in the United States yet. It was something people did in Canada and Australia, but slightly different. Their idea was less of a bowling alley vibe and more comfortable and private.
“We made it more like a place to have a party,” Kelly said. “It’s not just a place to get sweaty and throw axes competitively, but a place to step away from the technology, unplug, and connect with friends and family. We felt it was important to have nice tables, furniture, and a place to spread out food.”
Their game was a hit with people out on dates or small groups of friends, so they began to expand on the concept. Even though three of the four founders kept their day jobs for a while, they all agreed to take some money out of their retirement savings and make Stumpy’s Hatchet House a national brand.
Stumpy’s Hatchet House has 27 locations throughout the U.S., and the team is planning to open nine more by the end of 2021. Most of the locations remained open during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with limited capacity, in part because they were designed for small groups with plenty of space between parties.
“We saw growth in sales everywhere with a lot of new customers because people are so cooped up,” she said. “We lend ourselves to social distancing because the place is so big. You’re never in the training room with people you don’t know, and in the throwing pit, you’re in your own space.”
When the founders wrote their business plan, they expected to attract plenty of hipsters with lumberjack beards, but the concept brings in a wide range of participants, mostly between 25 and 45 years old. To appeal to families who wanted more options, they changed their minimum age from 18 to 13 on Sundays at some locations.
When visitors check in to throw an axe for the first time, they must first sign a waiver promising to follow the rules. A throwing coach will then lead the guests to their private throwing pit and teach them how to throw one-handed and with two hands.
“The throwing coach’s job is making sure everyone is safe and interacting with the guests,” she said. “Sometimes guests will want to play games or just throw. We don’t get involved in their experience unless they want us to.”
Although alcohol rules differ with each state, many locations either have a bar or allow visitors to bring their own drinks when they make a reservation. Facilities vary in size from eight private throwing pits at the smallest location and up to 16, with the average being around 12.
The Stumpy’s Hatchet House team also frequently creates new games to keep things interesting for returning guests. They even created one especially for Valentine’s Day dates that combines axe throwing and getting to know each other.
Each location also offers more than just axe throwing. Some locations have giant Social Falldown, checkers, and other rustic games to play instead of staring at a smartphone.
“Some people will play Social Falldown as long as they throw,” Kelly said. “We’re looking to develop that more for the repeat customers, so we always have something new.”
Soon, Stumpy’s Hatchet House will be opening in new places, including locations in Brooklyn, New York; Frisco, Texas; Huntington Beach, California; and Richmond, Virginia, in the next couple of months.
Other locations in Irving, Texas, Westchester, Pennsylvania, and Columbia, Maryland, have beer walls so visitors can pour their own and sample different varieties. The idea is to have plenty of options, so couples are happy and ready to compete in a healthy, safe manner while they enjoy their time.