Local Firefighters Bring Axe Throwing to the RGV

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Local Firefighters Bring Axe Throwing to the RGV

Owners Mark Koite, Jeremy Jensen and Aaron Vera bear their axes while standing in one of the double-target stations at Kickin Axes RGV in McAllen.
Owners Mark Koite, Jeremy Jensen and Aaron Vera bear their axes while standing in one of the double-target stations at Kickin Axes RGV in McAllen.

If you are not familiar with the sport of axe throwing, you may want to throw on some closed-toe shoes, grab a few friends and drive over to Kickin Axes RGV at 1017 W. Shasta Ave. in McAllen.

It seems fitting that three brothers, not biological brothers but firefighter brothers, own this “new fun in town.”

It all started when Mark Koite and his wife traveled to San Antonio for a birthday party. They were invited to go axe throwing.

The ceiling light in the lounge area of Kickin Axes RGV in McAllen is made from a firefighter’s helmet.
The ceiling light in the lounge area of Kickin Axes RGV in McAllen is made from a firefighter’s helmet.

“I thought, ‘Why would anyone want to do this?’” Koite said. But to his surprise, he had a great time. Koite enjoyed himself so much, in fact, that he asked himself an important question: Who can I find who’s crazy like me and who will do this? It did not take him long to answer his own question.

“I knew it would be two of my brother firefighters,” Koite said. And he knew which two — Aaron Vera and Jeremy Jensen.  Not only are all three men firefighters, but they are all veterans too. Koite and Jensen served in the United States Army, and Vera served in the United States Air Force. Vera retired from the McAllen Fire Department in June after nine years. Koite has been a McAllen firefighter for 11 years and Jensen for three, both working at the same firehouse.

Jensen said when Koite first approached him with the idea, he had never heard of axe throwing and felt skeptical. But he and his wife drove to Stumpy’s Hatchet House in San Antonio to experience it for themselves.

“As soon as I stuck the axe, I knew I could do this every day,” Jensen said, “It’s such a stress reliever and it’s competitive. Now people in the Valley don’t have to travel to San Antonio to do it.”

C.K. Navarro follows his axe with his eyes, hoping for a bullseye.
C.K. Navarro follows his axe with his eyes, hoping for a bullseye.

Much like darts, axe throwing involves aiming at a target, but the target is much bigger and so is the ‘device’ of use. “It’s all about technique and repetition,” Koite said, which is also like darts.

Kickin Axes RGV, which opened Dec. 14, has both single-target stations, for groups of four or fewer, and double-target stations, for groups of five to 10. The owners refer to them as “stations” rather than lanes. If fits their firefighter theme which is prevalent throughout the facility. Hit a bullseye and you will see just how far they take this theme. 

One Friday night in January, Bailey Larson and her friend Jessenia Hurzberg decided to check out Kickin Axes RGV.

“I had seen other people throwing axes on YouTube but I didn’t know it was here,” Larson said. When Hurzberg invited her to go, she said she immediately said yes.

Jeremy Jensen, one of the owners of Kickin Axes RGV, sounds a hand-cranked Q2B siren to signal when an axe thrower hits the bullseye.
Jeremy Jensen, one of the owners of Kickin Axes RGV, sounds a hand-cranked Q2B siren to signal when an axe thrower hits the bullseye.

“My cousin is in an axe-throwing league,” Hurzberg said. “I always thought it was really cool.” (Kickin Axes RGV is a recognized affiliate of the World Axe Throwing League. Local leagues will be forming soon.) Hurzberg said she was headed home one day when she saw Kickin Axes RGV. She contacted Larsen to join her for an evening of axe throwing.  

Hilario Zamora joined a group at Kickin Axes the same January night. It was his first time as well. “Just the fact that you get to throw axes, that alone is a plus,” he said.

Another member of Zamora’s group, Karen Longoria, said she, too, had seen videos of axe throwing but had never tried it. “It’s fun!” she said. “I am very competitive, so this is my thing.”

According to Vera, he and his partners share a passion for the business and for seeing other people have as much fun there as they do.  

That is their bullseye.

Aaron Vera, one of the Kickin Axes RGV owners, in a double-target station.
Aaron Vera, one of the Kickin Axes RGV owners, in a double-target station.

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