Veterans with mental illnesses can now use war-like weapons as a form of therapy at a local business: The Rustic Range.
The Rustic Range, owned by Micah Lopez, is a tomahawk-throwing range that opened in late July. The range partnered with the Heal Empower Recovery Overcome (HERO) Program of New Beginnings at the beginning of August.
Together, they aimed to help veterans with mental illnesses, specifically post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) accompanied with substance abuse. Around once a month, veterans in the program have a chance to participate in Tomahawk Therapy as part of their treatment.
Lopez and Chase Glenn, the CEO of HERO and New Beginnings, came up with the idea of Tomahawk Therapy after realizing how much it resembled combat. They saw the potential benefits that throwing tomahawks could have on the veterans in Glenn’s program. Two therapy sessions have been offered so far, and they believe that it is helping.
When a tomahawk hits the target, it makes a loud banging sound, and this could be triggering for veterans with PTSD. Therapists from New Beginnings are on site to help veterans talk about how they are feeling or about any memories they may have as a result.
Participants are then given an opportunity to write something that they have anxiety or anger about on paper, attach it to the target and aim for it. This is a way to physically destroy what is bothering them, according to Glenn.
Imagine placing all of your stress in the handle of a tomahawk hatchet and feeling it slip away as you hurl the tomahawk towards a target.
Caleb Morse, a veteran with traumatic brain injury and memory loss, said throwing tomahawks helps him block out the rest of the world.
“It gives me something I can focus on without any thought,” Morse said.
According to the Clinical Director at New Beginnings, Craig LaSeur, one of the greatest benefits of the therapy sessions is seeing veterans come together as a group.
He said throwing tomahawks is a new skill set for many veterans and they must work to improve it, much like sobriety.
It is also a great way to release anything veterans may be holding on to and gives them a chance to be more hands-on than a typical talking session.
LaSeur said the idea of throwing hatchets as a form of therapy scared and excited him at the same time. So far he has received mostly good feedback, and he said that participants spoke positively about their experience for days after.
The Rustic Range is not just for veterans. Anyone can go to the outdoor range located behind The Rustic Renegade off Evangeline Thruway.
Lopez said throwing tomahawks is stress relieving, and it taps into the primitive warrior. Safety is important to Lopez, and he said he has figured out how to make the range as safe a possible. By focusing on details such as the length of the handle and the distance people stand away from the three-dimensional target. The range is very safe, according to Lopez.
As throwing ranges grow in popularity, they are beginning to open across the area. All the Rage, located in Broussard, is the only other throwing range in Lafayette Parish, and the Rustic Range brought the trend into the Lafayette and Carencro area.
Sessions at the Rustic Range cost $15 per half hour and $30 for an hour and includes an instructional lesson from Lopez on throwing properly. The setup and atmosphere can accommodate a small group of people or a large private event.