TEXARKANA, Texas — Tap into your inner lumberjack at Texarkana's newest entertainment business, Sling Blades Axe Throwing Co.
With four axe throwing lanes, pool tables, darts and air hockey, plenty of family-style fun times await, but the most unusual pastime is surely the axe throwing, which has nevertheless become popular in recent years.
Hochatown, Oklahoma, for example, has an axe throwing venue, Tomahawk's, as do Dallas, North Little Rock and Bossier City, Louisiana.
But as fans of axe throwing who've traveled to enjoy the hobby, Kevin and Toni Hancock decided they'd open a venue right here at home in Texarkana. This Texas-side spot is located at 2729 New Boston Road, Suite 34.
"We got tired of driving an hour to an hour-and-a-half either way to go do this, and we needed something in Texarkana," Kevin Hancock said.
They aim to create a family-friendly environment and hit a market this area has been needing, he says.
Here's how it works: Up to six people can rent a lane by the hour. As long as they have the strength to throw properly, youth age 5 and up can participate with adults. Although they don't serve alcohol at Sling Blades, two party rooms are available where you can BYOB.
When you walk in and say you want to throw axes, one of the coaches will assist in setting up a lane — "and we'll teach you how to properly throw and the safest way to throw the axe, grab in two hands or one," Hancock said.
The coach will observe and help until everybody "sticks the wood," as he described hitting the wooden bullseye.
"We have these little bells, and you ring that bell when you hit your first bullseye," Hancock said. "It's called the bullseye bell. We'll come over, we'll take a picture of you with the bullseye, and then the next time you come in you'll see your picture on the wall."
Then bullseye-hitters can sign the wall of fame. Lanes are rented by the hour. Basic concessions are available with canned drinks, chips, candy and cookies. That aspect will grow.
"I want a place that you can just really hang out and enjoy yourself. You don't just find that too much now," Hancock said. This is a way to bring people together.
Hancock vows that within three to five minutes he'll get guests to hit the target — with no experience.
If coaches see that a child is having a hard time pulling the axe back, they won't be able to throw. "It's all about safety. I mean, we're throwing axes," Hancock said. They have ways to stop axes from bouncing back, too.
"We did a lot of studying and traveling to kind of see some ways that we thought would benefit us in starting this business venture," Hancock said, noting he and Toni threw axes outside the first time up in Hochatown.
"We love it," Hancock said. "The only thing we didn't want to do is make it a bar." He says they didn't get into the business to get rich, but they want to have fun and make a living.
What makes for a good axe thrower?
"A mad woman makes a good axe thrower. I wouldn't advise you to make that your goal," Hancock said with a laugh. "Honestly, for some reason, and I don't know why, but women are attracted to throwing axes. We've booked more parties for women than we have for men."
A competitive spirit makes for a good axe thrower, he said. Having the drive helps.
"It's not like rocket science or nothing. It's foot placement and form," Hancock said.
Sling Blades also hope to start a dart league and conduct pool tournaments.
They planned a Friday the 13th opening. With 2020 supposedly being the worst year in history, it was a funny time to open a business where you throw sharp objects, Hancock joked. They planned to give out Jason masks with the Sling Blades logo on it.
While he wants to catch the 50- to 60-year old market who want to enjoy a good time without drama, he also aims for a younger crowd, too "I want to target high school kids and college kids, like young adults," Hancock said.
It's a possible date night, he said, noting the older set will get out to throw some axes.
"I guarantee it's easier to get your grandma to throw an axe at a target than get her a tattoo, I promise you," Hancock said, noting he's been blown away by the strong interest and positivity they've so far received about Sling Blades.
Business hours: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Veterans, first responders and law enforcement can play for 50% off.
(More info: Call 903-280-5658 or 903-701-6308, or visit Facebook.com/slingbladesaxethrowingtxk.)