When Eric Hansen was young, he’d spend hours at his family’s Catskills hunting camp throwing a hatchet against a tree just for the fun of making it stick. Now, Hansen and his fiancée, Rachel, have turned a rural pastime into a lucrative gig with Hudson Valley Hatchet, a traveling axe-throwing experience begun in September 2018.
The sport of axe throwing has grown rapidly in just a few years, starting in Toronto before sprouting across Canada and the U.S. Eric, who is a full-time police officer, and Rachel, an English teacher, came up with the idea of a portable range. “Choosing to launch the business as a mobile unit started with Rachel’s love for festivals,” Hansen says. “We were hesitant with the time commitment needed for a venue. As parents of two young boys, our family comes first.”
“I was inspired by other setups I had seen on social media,” he explains, “and, with a little farm-boy ingenuity, created our portable setup — within the guidelines of the insurance company.”
Hudson Valley Hatchet is based in Gardiner and travels to parties and events, providing enclosed targets, hatchets weighing just over a pound each, and coaching for each session. “Most are hesitant to throw, but after a few bullseyes they come back for more,” Hansen says. “There’s something so gratifying about seeing the axe stick to the target while a crowd of people cheers you on.”
At Vikings Hatchet Hurling in Port Jervis — which has a main room with 14 targets, a VIP room with six targets, a knife club, and an in-house league — the social aspect is key. “We wanted to create a place where people hang out and relax,” says co-owner Dustin Adams. “You laugh a lot, and after about three or four throws, any angst you might have been carrying is gone.”
Where to Throw