Mo & Chris: Learning to throw hatchets

- It takes a little practice and a steady hand, but when a hatchet hits a target, everybody cheers you on. Stumpy's, the first hatchet house in Eatontown, New Jersey, is doing a booming business, so we figured it was time to check it out.

Before we tried it, we had lots of questions. First, how did it all start?

Co-owner Stu Josberger says it's one of those backyard businesses that developed out of some friends hanging out at a barbecue one night, splitting some wood for a fire pit. They ended up throwing some hatchets at a log round, drawing a target on it and it snowballed from there.

So how tough is it to get a license or get approved to open a hatchet business in New Jersey? Stu says it's not hard at all. It was just a matter of finding the right location, which took about 9 months. They're in a recreational building where all the suites are zoned for light industry to recreation.

Insurance is pretty important at a hatchet house, and they have it! Stu says they're in the same risk pool as shooting and archery ranges. How about their clientele? They do corporate parties, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and social get-togethers.

Stu says they're also getting people who come after dinner on a Friday night and a lot of first dates. He thinks it the perfect first date: you're both learning something new, going through Stumpy's training, and acquiring a new skill. Plus it's a great way to break the ice and get to know somebody.

Stumpy's charges $40 for a two-hour session. It's a BYOB establishment, so you're welcome to bring your own beer and wine. 

But first, you have to meet with a throwing coach in the training room to learn the rules. The No. 1 priority is safety. These are real hatchets, which can cut and hurt you if you don't use them properly. Then you sign a waiver of liability.

The throwing coaches will give you some advice: don't flick or twist your wrist. Keep it stiff. Lead with your opposite foot and release the hatchet right at the bull's-eye.

We tried it out and found that the double-handed throw was the way to go. We weren't so great at it. (Note: Christal was much better than Alison!) But we both had a great time (even Alison!) and it seemed like everyone else there was having fun, too.

Stumpy's is open Wednesday through Sunday. Private parties are welcome anytime.

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