Is hatchet-throwing becoming a new American pastime?

Woman throwing Hatchet

Woman throws a hatchet at Stumpy’s Hatchet House in NJ. (via Yahoo)

It certainly seems that way with establishments opening all round the country. One of the latest to draw media attention is Stumpy’s Hatchet House in New Jersey.


On a busy Friday night at Stumpy’s Hatchet House in New Jersey, it sounds like this: the thud of the blade sticking into a wooden target, people cheering a good toss, and a bell ringing out when somebody scores a bull’s eye.

Its four founders say this place, which opened 18 months ago, is the first of its kind in the US, although Canada is generally considered the cradle of competitive hatchet-hurling.

Stumpy’s owners are talking about opening another elsewhere in New Jersey and have even started offering franchise arrangements. They hope to have a network of 15 within a year.

“This is the next bowling,” said Kelly Josberger, a former elementary school principal aged 51 who decided to change careers. Like her three partners, she had never before run a business.

“Even if you’re bad, you still have fun. With bowling, if you’re not good at it, it’s not really as fun,” said Joseph Cavanagh, 27, who came to Stumpy’s with friends to celebrate his birthday.

Of course there are some who do not think mixing beer and sharp objects is a bad idea. Yahoo continues:

Stumpy’s does not have a license to sell alcohol but it does allow people to bring their own beer or wine.

Alyssa Tabernise remembers when she first heard of the quirky pastime.

She recalls thinking “it’s not really safe that we’re drinking and throwing, but it’s probably a lot of fun.”

To maximize safety, the Stumpy’s team makes a short training course mandatory.

And there are strict rules: no one under age 21; one thrower at a time, and competitors cannot hand the hatchet to each other but rather must leave it in a special holder after throwing.

At Valhalla, the first hatchet bar in France, which opened in October near Caen, people have to take a breathalyzer test before being allowed to play along.

At Stumpy’s, staffers stroll around constantly to make sure people are following the rules. The 14-inch steel hatchets weighs 1.25 pound.

A breathalyzer is probably overkill, though the BYOB policy is probably better than opening yourself to the 3rd-party liability of actually serving your customers (and it saves on a liquor license). Obviously, having staff circulate, supervise, and offer assistance is a great idea.


I have been throwing knives off and on for the last couple of years. I find it more challenging and fun than darts. I have completed an end-grain/butcher-block backstop, but I still need to mount it in the yard. I will post more about the construction once I get it permanently installed in my yard.

Because it is something that I get called out on from time to time, I wanted to note that yes the Hogue EX-T01 is hardened, which is typically frowned upon by folks in the industry. I have Neil Hogue’s blessing in this case.

Do you fling steel? Either knives, hawks, or hatchets? Have you been to one of these establishments? Would you like to if there is one nearby?



  1. Sam L. says:


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Is hatchet-throwing becoming a new American pastime?

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