Sarah Hilyard: Wellington axe-throwing company taking a swing at getting a liquor licence

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A Wellington axe-throwing company has taken aim at getting a liquor licence.
Sweet Axe Throwing has applied to Wellington City Council's Licensing Committee for an on-premises licence, claiming it won't make things dangerous.
The conditions of the licence would see customers limited to two drinks each over a two-hour axe-throwing session, with any intoxicated people barred from participating.
Anyone who consumed alcohol before they arrived would also be turned away from the venue.
Police have objected to the application, raising concerns over how drinking would impact the safety of the activity.
Sergeant Jo Wigman said her main concern was the high risk involved in axe throwing.
"Alcohol itself is a risk-increasing factor. It directly impacts behaviour, and increases the risk of harm."
Wigman confirmed her own research hadn't uncovered any instances of injuries related to axe-throwing in New Zealand, or overseas.
Sweet Axe Throwing Co-owner Lloyd Bombell said it was the perception of danger that made axe-throwing exciting, but in reality it was completely safe.
"We run a very tight ship. It's a controlled environment, with an 'axe-pert' [instructor] monitoring the situation closely every second. You'd be safer in here than crossing a busy street."
He said alcohol would only make axe throwing risky if it was consumed without the strict regulations they were proposing.
"If we just gave someone an axe and said 'fire away' then of course it would be dangerous. But we work closely with our customers to make sure they do it properly. Two drinks over the space of two hours shouldn't impact that in a significant way."
Bombell said the licence would be extremely helpful in offering the venue as a sociable, relaxed, fun environment for various functions.
"Corporations want to come here for team-building exercises, we have birthday parties, stag-dos. Why would they choose us if we can't satisfy all their amenities?"
Liquor licensing inspector Joanne Burt said she agreed that when you took axe-throwing out of the equation, Sweet Axe Throwing had proposed safe and responsible conditions for supplying alcohol.
She said her concerns related to spectators at the event, and the possibility of them passing unfinished drinks to others in the throwing area.
Sweet Axe Throwing general manager Krista Mackie argued that customers were always being watched by three people - the server, the "axe-pert", and a staff supervisor.
"People listen to us because they don't want to get kicked out, or asked to sit and not participate. When you threaten to take away their toys, they're more likely to follow the rules."
She said the only injuries that had occurred at the venue was when someone slipped and bumped their head, and another time where someone needed a band-aid after picking an axe up the wrong way.
The hearing is expected to continue tomorrow.
text by Kasharn Rao

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