LEWISTON — Two of Christopher Nichols’ sons roam the former Olympia Sports as coaches offering pointers. A daughter works the front counter with rules and releases. A 15-year-old son works the kitchen with simple finger food fare.

Nichols spent 20 years in a bakery and wanted to start his own business. The Lewiston man landed on a full-on, ax throwing family affair.

“I looked around at what you want to open for a business and it was two things, either build wheelchairs because like 65% of Maine is over 60, or something you love, so I picked something I love and here we are,” he said.

Here is also the Lewiston Mall, where Splittin’ Wood Axe Throwing opened last month with 11 targets, five of them single lanes — think date nights, he said. Three of them are doubles — think parties, work retreats or group events.

Taylor Coutts of Auburn throws her ax at a target Thursday night at Splittin’ Wood Axe Throwing in the Lewiston Mall. It was her first but not her last time, she said. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Part of the inspiration was his own date night two years ago, when Nichols said his wife, Julie, who works in education, surprised him with a concert and ax throwing.

“I was like, are you kidding me, I love this,” he said. As a kid, “you throw axes at trees, not a big deal, and then you realize as you get older, and you can do this? Unbelievable.”

Work started on transforming the space in February.

In the old Olympia Sports, “the carpet went right down the center, it’s a purple carpet, and it’s exactly the dimensions we needed for the throw zone,” he said.

Customers, who pay $20 an hour to throw knives, daggers, stars and any number of axes, meet Makenna Nichols, 19, when they walk in.

“I think it’s amazing. My dad’s always wanted to work for himself and I’ve always been pushing and encouraging him to do it,” she said.

She gets to watch newcomers transform from hesitant to I’ve got this.

“Everyone gets so excited,” Makenna said. “You know when somebody hits (a bull’s-eye) because just that group is jumping and screaming.”

After signing releases, customers get more guidance and safety specifics in their lanes.

“We have to see everybody throw, and then when we see everybody throw, we coach them on how they could throw a little bit better to be able to stick their wood,” Christopher Nichols said.

Trent Bellavance, of Lewiston, winds up to throw his ax at a target Thursday night at Splittin’ Wood Axe Throwing in the Lewiston Mall. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The advice might be to change a stance, a grip or the power level.

“Everybody’s different, and we respect that and like that,” said Lucas Nichols, 21, who, like his brother Gabriel, 23, coaches customers. “Some people might not have even touched an ax before, not even touched a sharp object before. We’ve always got to keep that in mind.”

The business is open for ages 15 and older Wednesdays through Saturdays from 3 to 11 p.m. Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. is for the 10-and-up crowd.

Splittin’ Wood Axe Throwing also has two mobile targets for events; they’ve had people ask about them for weddings already, Christopher Nichols said.

A Wednesday night ax throwing league is planned this fall.

People are allowed to bring in their own implements, with one condition: “I have to inspect it and also I get to throw it,” Christopher Nichols said. “So you bring your toys in and I get to play with your toys and you get to play with mine.”

Christina Tucci, left, throws an ax at a target Thursday night at Splittin’ Wood Axe Throwing at the Lewiston Mall where she was trying out the new sport for the first time with her wife, Breeanna Tucci, right. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

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