Axes in the air
Bird and Kyle Durrant are just weeks from opening the region’s first ax-throwing hangout, but the couple have been dreaming up the valley’s newest recreational offering for more than a year.
Knowing firsthand how much fun a cold beer, camaraderie and a few rounds of throwing sharp objects can be after they happened onto the new craze of ax-throwing bars, they decided to bring one to Southern Oregon.
Their business focus for Cascadia Axe Company will be three-fold; offering something fun for the region, supporting local and small business, and showcasing Kyle Durrant’s blacksmithing and wood-working skills.
The couple, who are outdoor enthusiasts and mounted archers, have done their homework on hosting a recreational venue.
A tattoo artist for the past five years and a skilled carpenter, Kyle Durrant describes himself as a jack-of-all-trades and “backyard ax thrower” who moved to the Rogue Valley as a kid from his native Washington.
Bird Durrant, a California native who most recently was events manager for Schoolhaus Brewhaus in Jacksonville, spent a chunk of the last year exploring ax-throwing establishments around the country.
Learning the ins and outs of how similar businesses were set up was insightful, she said. The couple’s new digs along Highway 62, east of Vilas Road, is the result of her research and his handiwork.
A transformed warehouse turned woodwork and metalworks showcase, the space, at 5681 Crater Lake Highway, features upcycled barnwood walls, custom tabletops and handmade fixtures. An online ad for free barnwood jumpstarted the theme of upcycling reusable materials.
“We found an ad on Facebook, a lady had posted free barnwood,” said Bird Durrant.
“The catch was you had to disassemble it yourself, board by board and nail by nail. The whole barn. ... It was [scheduled to be torn down], but it was free wood ... so I sent Kyle to check it out.”
The decor inside the Cascadia Axe Company has been created mostly by Kyle and local craftsman Scot Gotcher, owner of Clever Grain, who is helping to make tables.
In the short term, Cascadia will focus on cold drinks and ax throwing with some board games — think checkers and foosball — available.
The couple are members of the World Axe Throwing League, and ax-throwing times will be split into league nights, reserved time ($20 per hour) and open throwing times ($25 per hour).
Ax throwers will be required to listen to a safety spiel and sign a liability waiver.
Regular league nights will allow competitive ax throwers to compete nationally at the local spot. For league nights, two of the six lanes are wider, meeting league regulations.
For refreshments, they’ll keep it simple with containerized beers and ciders for now.
In the longterm, they plan to offer classes and demonstrations in skills such as blacksmithing, metal work, leather work and carpentry.
After a soft opening last week, Bird Durrant said it was exciting to finally be able to share their dream with the community.
“It was basically an empty warehouse when we got it. Our landlord built us bathrooms, and we built everything else,” she said.
The owners plan to take their specialty on the road, offering on-location ax-throwing at weddings and other events. They also plan to add a retail space to the bar featuring knives, axes, cutting boards, hand-forged nails and other items.
For more information, or to schedule throwing time, call 541-203-0246, or see www.facebook.com/cascadiaaxe.
Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at email@example.com.