You throw axes at FlannelJax’s. That alone sets it apart from most other places you could spend your free time in. Try throwing axes at miniature golf, the bowling alley, or the wildlife refuge, and at best you’ll be sternly asked to leave. It is a good thing that you can throw axes at FlannelJax’s, too, because it’s incredibly fun. Hurling a five pound chunk of steel with all your might is satisfying whether you hit a target with it or not.
To get to FlannelJax’s, you’ve got to navigate the hallways of an immense old canning company. If you can avoid the minotaur, you’ll be welcomed at FlannelJax’s very pretty space, which has the smell of freshly thwacked pine and a good selection of cold beer. This would make a good place for a first date. The rhythmic thwunk of axes hitting walls keeps conversation light, and the attendant you’re provided with makes a good third wheel in the event things should go sideways. This is also a place where you celebrate birthdays, business successes, kids’ sports team wins, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and any other occasion that could be brightened by axe throwing. (Their website says they make for a good divorce party as well — one can only imagine how many headshots have been stapled to targets in the past.)
I brought my dad, who had first tried axe throwing in Quebec back before it was cool. We were placed in the care of Andrew Dobias, FlannelJax’s resident axe throwing expert, who led us to our axe throwing stall and gave us the rules. You would have to be a big dumb not to grasp the core tenets of axe throwing immediately — don’t throw an axe in the direction of anything that you care about, and always treat an axe like it’s loaded. Axe throwing itself, at its simplest, is to try to get bullseyes, but there are several other types of axe games to try such as “around the world” and “axe-hole.” They spice things up.
What FlannelJax’s has got which some other places don’t is a thick rubber pad between the thrower and their target. This absorbs the shock of an exceptionally poorly thrown axe and prevents it from ricocheting back. We put the pad to the test, albeit unintentionally, and the system seems to work flawlessly.
Once satisfied that we had totally ruined some perfectly good lumbar, we turned our attention to FlannelJax’s other games, which stick closely to the lumber ruining theme. For crosscut sawing, we put on kevlar chaps and manned a large saw with a handle on either side. We had to work as a team to cut through the log between us, which we did not do — if we’d taken any longer the log would have rotted. Thump the stump does not require chaps. In it you take turns hitting your nail with a claw hammer, one handed. This requires care and finesse, and as I’m lucky to hit the right key on a keyboard half the time I wound up promptly bending my nail into a 90 degree angle. Thump the stump is great fun, something I would like to put in my apartment to get back at my downstair neighbor.
FlannelJax’s gave me one of the best times I’ve had in ages. It certainly wasn’t topped by a badly flooded Harriet Island Park, which is where we went next. The geese there got snippy with me, and I just wished I was as well-prepared for goose sass then as I was half an hour ago.
FlannelJax’s is located at 755 Prior Ave North, Suite 2 in St. Paul. You can go to flanneljaxs.com to learn more about them.
By David Scheller