Weigel: Hatchet Jack’s: Is it worth it?

Hatchet Jack’s, the new hatchet-throwing bar that opened up this summer, is worth visiting but not a place the average college student is likely to frequent.


A customer throws a hatchet during the soft opening of Hatchet Jack’s on Saturday, June 30, 2018. Hatchet Jack’s will be opening soon and allows patrons to throw axes while enjoying beer and wine. (Matthew Finley/The Daily Iowan)

Zach Weigel, Opinion Columnist

Another semester begins, and another bar has opened in Iowa City. For all the new students starting classes, all the veterans returning to Iowa City, and all those interested in novelty experiences, I encourage you to give the new hatchet-throwing bar Hatchet Jack’s a try. I did, and as odd as it sounds, the place is both memorable and forgettable.

You’ll remember your visit because throwing a hatchet and drinking a beer isn’t something that the typical person does just any day. Yet at the same time, I venture to bet that Hatchet Jack’s will not become a “go-to” place that you’ll want to visit time and time again. Hence, in this sense Hatchet Jack’s is forgettable.

Now, just where is this place? Unfortunately, Hatchet Jack’s isn’t right downtown. Nonetheless, it’s in a nice up-and-coming area at the intersection of Highway 1 and Riverside Drive. Or, in college students’ parlance, it’s across the street from KFC, right next to a Starbucks that is under construction.

As far as the procedures go, once you arrive, you have to sign a waiver, provide a valid driver’s license, and wear closed-toe shoes. So come prepared. Also, be prepared to spend a bit of money; prices aren’t exactly cheap. For small groups of one to three, it’ll cost you $20 a person for an hour’s worth of throwing time or $35 a person for larger groups, but you get two hours.

After getting all squared away with the waiver and payment, you can head on over to the bar, where the establishment sells local beers from Big Grove, Exile and more in addition to popular domestics such as Bud and Busch Light. A beer will cost you roughly $4 to $6, which isn’t too bad, but there aren’t any specials to get excited about. Moreover, the place understandably limits you to three beers while you’re throwing, although you can have as many as you want if you’re done throwing or are watching others try their luck.

When it comes to actually throwing the hatchets, anticipate failure. Out of two of my buddies and I, only one of us had the magic touch right off the bat. One of us figured it out by the end, and one of us never seemed to find the right touch.

As you might guess, it turns out it’s not as easy as the movies imply. You have to ensure you get enough power on your throw, aim, and follow-through. You can’t just step up and chuck a hatchet expecting it to stick. It might work once or twice, but to consistently hit the target, you have to fine-tune your skills.

Then, if you get the hang of it, you can play a variety of different hatchet-throwing games. Aside from counting up the high score on a bullseye, you can play tic-tac-toe, bingo, or even create your own game. Ergo, there are plenty of ways to compete with your friends to see who is the best hatchet-tosser.

Chances are that the best thrower of your group will clamor to come again, while the worst thrower will be downtrodden and discouraged. And for the average person who gets a few hatchets to stick every now and then, I think it’s safe to say you’ll remember the experience but will soon come to forget that Hatchet Jack’s even exists. Although throwing a hatchet while having a beer is way cooler than bowling, it’s way more expensive.