Moving target: Challenge of launching Sterling axe-throwing bar during pandemic

Tara Hampton and her husband Alan Radney knew they wanted to open their own business, but weren’t sure what type.

“We were noodling around with potentially a coffee shop that had live music,” said Hampton.

Instead, they opened an axe-throwing bar, called Axes and Os, in Sterling, Virginia.

“It’s tough to launch a business in any climate — we ended up opening during a pandemic,” Hampton laughed.

The couple was set to open their business in March, about the same time as the arrival of COVID-19.

They had been confident about safely running a business where novices are hurling axes at targets, in a place where alcohol is served.

“The sport of axe-throwing has been found to be safer than bowling, there are fewer reported injuries,” she assured. “The most common injury in axe-throwing is a splinter.”

With the initial prohibitions against gatherings during the early days of the coronavirus shutdown, Hampton said Axes and Os opened on Father’s Day.

It didn’t hurt that Hampton had spent the last 15 years as a Registered Nurse.

“One of the last titles I held was infection-control nurse.”

Customers are given masks as they check in, and are expected to practice social distancing

With constant cleaning of surfaces — and yes, the axes are disinfected between uses — Hampton said having a large facility is providing the opportunity to host corporate events.

“Everything from a birthday party, to a bachelor party, to a baby shower,” she said.


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