[An earlier version of this story has been updated to account for an oversight.]
Apparently, these two have a thing for sharp objects.
Needles aren’t enough for acupuncturists Kathleen Connolly and Storm Morales. So they’ve decided to team up to open an axe-throwing range in Bohemia.
Axe Island is expected to open some time in November in a 5,000-square-foot facility on Locust Avenue, close to Veterans Highway. It will be the second axe-throwing range to open in the area in recent months, following Molly Hatchets Urban Axe Throwing, which opened in Ronkonkoma in August this summer.
Axe-throwing businesses are popping up in urban locales across the country, but until this summer, Long Islanders needed to travel to Brooklyn to find the closest one. For the uninformed — and let’s face it, most of us Long Islanders are in the dark here — axe throwing is actually pretty basic. And, ahem, a little primal.
Similar to dart throwing and bowling, participants throw in reserved lanes, taking aim at wood targets about 21 feet away. You can throw using one or both hands.
“Just holding the axe handle gives you a little bit of a primal feel,” said Connolly, 42, a former U.S. Marine. “There’s definitely the exhilaration of throwing and the thrill of hitting a target. But there’s also this great body and mind connection thing.
“It’s not a strength thing. It’s not a force thing. It’s like a finesse thing,” added Connolly, who already operates Eastern Sun Holistic Health, a 6,000-square-foot acupuncture, massage and skin care spa in Southold.
Axe Island will feature eight axe-throwing targets in four cages that each accommodate groups of up to 12 throwers. It will be open seven days a week.
The plan also includes a beer and cider bar and a full-service café with espresso and cappuccino.
At first blush, axes and alcohol may not seem like a match made in heaven. But in a controlled environment — including a two-beer limit for throwers and plenty of axe-throwing coaches on hand to provide guidance — it makes for a fun, safe night out.
Connolly and Morales are looking to serve only beer brewed on Long Island, dedicating the bar’s four taps to a different brewer each month. Leading off will be Moustache Brewing Co. from Riverhead, Connolly said.
“We want everything inside to be Long Island,” added Morales, 40, a Bellport Village resident who owns Acupuncture by Storm in Sayville. “Long Island beer, Long Island food.”
Axe-throwing joints are a growing trend in American cities. You’ll find them in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Philadelphia, San Diego, Texas and Florida, among other places. The National Axe Throwing Federation (NATF) estimates that participants worldwide have thrown more than 40 million axes.
It’s a fun group activity and it’s a bit of a workout. It’s also pretty cool that women and men can compete against each other because axe throwing is a lot more about skill than strength.
Consider that Connolly’s hatchet handle is sparkly and red – and Morales is the first to acknowledge that she stills kicks axe in the cage.
“We’ve studied meditation, Tai Chi and QigOng, which are all great and wonderful things. But I always find that my mind stays very busy,” said Connolly, a 2013 graduate of New York College of Health Professions in Syosset who met Morales, a 2009 alumnus of the same school, when she interned in his Sayville office.
“Once I built the target out in my backyard, I would go out with my coffee in the morning by myself, and throw axes and go into a complete. Zen-like state,” she added.
Morales and Connolly’s new business venture comes less than nine months after they first dipped their toes into the sport.
“He went first, and then he posted pictures on Facebook, and I said, ‘I have to go too!'” Connolly said, remembering Morales’ first axe-throwing night at a range in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, last January. “And then, we had a group of 20 of us go together. Soon, we were building targets for our backyards.”
Morales got so good, so fast that by the summer, he was competing on a national level., hitting tournaments in Denver, Iowa and Florida. Meanwhile, Connolly was trying out axe-throwing ranges across the country, while taking her 15-year-old son Griffin Spikoski — a professional video game player whose moniker is “Sceptic” — to eSports championships.
“This has snowballed very rapidly,” said Morales, who will compete in the World Axe Throwing Championship in Tucson, Arizona, on Dec. 8. Be sure to look for him on ESPN; the network is televising the event.
For Morales — a Connetquot High School graduate who was an NCAA Div. I shot putter, hammer and discus thrower at Stony Brook University — the attraction to the sport is two-fold.
“It was the memory of competing, but I also felt great doing it because it was a form of release,” he said. “So I started introducing it to friends, and they all loved it.'”