Congratulations on taking the time to learn about your new business! Check your email right away to check out the first one. If you don’t see the email make sure you check your spam folder just in case I landed in there!
In the meantime, here are the tools that I use in my business at Forged Axe Throwing. There might be some better options out there so please make sure you’re picking the best tool for you, but for me, these are what I use on a daily basis.
This is probably the stage you’re at right now. I’m sure it’s exciting and your future venue is the only thing on your mind. Take this time to plan things out as best you can. No plan is perfect, but it will help you think through many of the situations that you’re going to find yourself in.
Location, Location, Location. This book is all about choosing the appropriate property to rent/lease. This really helped me narrow down our decision of where to put the business and evaluate a number of factors including how to better understand commercial leases. Your location is honestly one of the most important things you’re going to decide to really take the time to make sure you get this right.
Trust me, I’m lying. This is a short read about attracting media attention. We’ve received a ton of press and it’s been enormously helpful in improving our search engine rankings and getting the word out there. I can’t afford to pay for the New York Times ad section, but we got in their editorial for free!
I included axes in the planning stage because you gotta know what you’re getting into! I bought an axe as soon as I decided to get started and put a target up while we were doing construction. It helped take some stress off and allowed me to get really good at throwing axes before I even opened.
The Cold Steel Axe Gang has quickly become the favourite for all of our staff and many of our guests. It’s not the cheapest axe but the balance is great and they also look super cool. We sell these in our shop as well for a good markup. This is more of an intermediate-advanced throwing axe
An easy upsell for axes is a nice leather sheath. We get these ones off Amazon but there’s lots of other ones out there as well. You can normally find some Facebook groups of leather workers who are always keen to find a new project you can commission.
Another great choice for throwing axes is the official WATL axe. It’s cheap, compliant with all the specs for the organization, looks cool, and has all the branding that you could want to look like an official axe throwing venue. I would consider this more of a beginner-intermediate axe.
Okay you’ve got your plan and now you’re ready to build! To save money early on I did a lot of work myself. I’m no trades guy or anything but I’ve used a drill a few times. I enlisted electricians, plumbers, and a framer to help me with some of the harder elements, but a lot of the work I was able to do myself. I estimate it saved me $20,000+ in labour costs.
The first thing I purchased was some power tools. I got this set from Makita based on a friend’s recommendation. I had some Ryobi tools in the past but I knew I was going to put these through their paces and I also wanted to use the drivers in our day to day operation so I opted for the Makitas which are a bit more rugged.
We have tried SO many things to get the sound down to an appropriate level. At the end of the day, we’re throwing axes, so there’s going to be noise. But installing some of these sound dampening panels can really help cut down on the echo which is what will give you and your customers a serious headache after a while.
We also made a whole bunch of sound panels ourselves out of these insulation panels. The trick to sound dampening is the more soft textured surfaces you have, the less echo the sound will emit. So make sure you’re using good insulation throughout your build. Our home made panels are a square frame of 1×2 lumber with landscaping fabric stapled around the frame to hide the ugly panels. Works great and way cheaper than buying real acoustic panels for everywhere.
These rubber mats do a great job of absorbing the force of the axe when players throw it too high. We suspend them about 3 inches from the wall and the axes just fall straight to floor instead of bouncing back. Before we opened we were testing out different ways to protect the walls and bounce-back was a serious concern, these mats eliminate the worry and they look pretty good too! We had a stencil made of our name and spray paint it right on. We cut them down to 3 foot on the long side so one mat can cover two targets.
In this section I’ve listed some of the tools that we use every single day. They’re essential for our business because that’s the way we have planned it out but it’s by no means the only way to do business. The best advice I can give you is to fine tune your own system and figure out the tools that work for you.
World Axe Throwing League:
If you choose to join the WATL then there are some specific things you’ll want for your venue. I would encourage you to look at the WATL, it definitely has the most growth of any organization and they are even broadcasting their tournaments on ESPN!
This stencil will make drawing your targets a breeze! I’d highly recommend picking up one of these even if you’re just throwing in your backyard. Constantly trying to get the lines right gets really old when you could just use a stencil and be done with it super fast.
The stencil works in conjunction with these paint markers.
Credit Card Processing:
We use Square to process all of our transactions at Forged. It’s an amazingly simple solution and you can get up and going very quickly. The rates are slightly higher than some other providers but the billing is transparent and the software and hardware are so easy to use. It’s a no-brainer for us.
Creating a schedule and managing staff is BY FAR the most challenging thing we deal with on a day to day basis. The small amount of money that we pay to WhenIwork every month is the best money I spend! It saves me countless hours of scheduling pain by allowing me to update schedules all at once.
WhenIWork also offers free excel templates to make your schedules if you’re not convinced you want to pay for the service.
We use GSuite for EVERYTHING. I have thousands of files, spreadsheets, video files, and emails all stored in here. The small price we pay google gives us a ton of value and it’s the first thing I purchased for the business. You can use Gmail with your own domain and it makes all of your business software very simple, can’t recommend enough.