It’s no secret that Stephenville doesn’t offer much when it comes to entertainment – which is exactly why Justin Nelson of Weatherford decided to open Big Axe House, an axe-throwing entertainment facility that allows participants to throw axes and attempt to hit a bulls eye.
Nelson first opened Parker County Axe Company in Weatherford because as a kid he was always fascinated with the concept of knife and axe throwing, and he realized that there wasn’t a facility like it nearby.
"I was like ‘Man, we need something like this in Weatherford because I hate driving to Fort Worth and Dallas if I don’t have to,’" he said. "Over a period of time, we started noticing a lot of Tarleton students coming in on the weekends. They would come in in big groups of like 10-12 kids and many of them told me, ‘You should open one in Stephenville.’"
Due to COVID-19, Nelson struggled with implementing his business in Stephenville at first.
"It almost didn’t happen, but once I start something, I usually don’t stop. I told myself, ‘I'm just going to do this and hope for the best,’" he said.
Nelson describes axe throwing as "the funnest sport ever" and says it’s a mixture of bowling and darts.
"You have a lane just like you do in a bowling alley. You have a foul line just like you do in a bowling alley and it’s almost like darts, because you’re looking at a dart board that’s bigger and you’re trying to hit certain numbers, so it’s a lot like a mixture of the both of them," he said.
The facility allows customers to bring their own food, as well as beer and wine, which many residents of Stephenville are already concerned about, according to comments on a post Nelson published on Erath County Breaking News on Facebook talking about his new business.
"People are worried that it’s not safe," he said. "I’ve seen comments where they say, "Beer and axes? What can go wrong?’ but we have safety protocols in place. We go over a safety demonstration and then we monitor everything pretty closely. In Weatherford, the worst thing we ever had was somebody had a splinter."
Nelson said customers are only allowed one-hour sessions for throwing axes and he will not allow hard liquor in his facility.
"We monitor it," he said. "If you’re going to be there for only an hour, one or two beers is kind of what we want you to keep it at. We don’t want you to down a six-pack in an hour. The minute somebody looks like they’re not being safe, we say, ‘Hey, come back next week. Here’s a free hour on us.’ I think it’s a good way to keep everybody safe and having a good time."
A peculiar question in the FAQ on www.bigaxehouse.com asks if customers can throw an axe at a picture of their ex or boss.
"No! As funny as it may be...it can be considered a terroristic threat," the website states. "However, you can throw axes at words, zombie cutouts, silhouettes, and stickers as long as they don't harm our axes!"
An hour of axe throwing is $19.99 per person and all participants must be at least 10 years old with adult supervision.
As far as what to wear, closed-toe shoes are a requirement, but Nelson also recommends wearing comfortable clothing.
"We have even had axe throwers in their wedding gowns," their website states.
Big Axe House is located at 6560 S. U.S. Highway 377.
Their hours of operation are Thursday from 4-9 p.m., Friday from 4 p.m.-12 a.m., Saturday from 12 p.m.-12 a.m. and Sunday from 12-7 p.m. Reservations for birthday parties, team building activities and other events can be scheduled at any time with a phone call.
Appointments are preferred but not required.
For more information or to book an appointment, call Big Axe House at 254-600-9884.
"The thing that most people will like in Stephenville is the fact that it’s new, interesting, competitive and it’s something to do," Nelson added.