A new Indiana Senate bill could partially reverse the state's ban on recreational use of throwing stars.
Senate Bill 77, authored by Sen. Liz Brown and Sen. Linda Rogers, would allow people at least 12 years of age to possess a throwing star for recreational purposes on certain business premises if certain requirements are met.
Senate Bill 77 passed in the Indiana Senate on Jan. 31. It will now be sent to the House of Representatives. The House must approve the bill before it can be sent to the governor for signature.
The manufacturing, use and possession of throwing stars, also known as ninja stars or Shuriken, has been outlawed in Indiana since 1985.
Rogers said she was inspired to author the bill after being approached by Ninja Golf!, a miniature golf course in Granger, Indiana looking to add throwing stars to its facility, which currently offers ax-throwing. Rogers said she thought legalizing throwing stars for businesses would be a great idea as long as it was done safely.
"They would have to have a designated lane, and it must be enclosed, so when someone is throwing these throwing stars they cannot leave those lanes and hurt anyone," she said.
Facilities using throwing stars would also require the activity to be supervised by a staff member with training in and knowledge of throwing stars, Rogers said. They would also need proper liability insurance. Children over 12 years old operating the stars would need written permission from a parent or guardian.
Although she has heard interest from people about legalizing throwing stars on a broader scale, right now, Rogers said, legislation is focusing on limiting throwing star use to approved businesses.
"I think it's sometimes better to start out and have those restrictions in place before you expand things," she said. "If you have the proper precautions in place, it is something that people will want to do."
John Miller, owner of Ninja Golf!, said he was looking for new attractions to add to the entertainment venue ahead of its fifth anniversary in August. He'd noticed a rise in popularity of ax-throwing over the last few years, and thought throwing stars would be a fun experience for customers, he said. He reached out to a lawyer, who put him in contact with Rogers to discuss possible legislation.
Miller said while he initially thought of the idea for his businesses, he thinks other axe-throwing venues would want to offer throwing stars as well.
"For us, it's a revenue-builder; it's our theme,” Miller said. “We think it's a really fun thing to bring to the community."
Miller said throwing stars can be easier to use than axes because with axes, he said, it can be difficult to hit the target and to build skills. He said, if the bill were passed, Ninja Golf! would implement precautionary measures like requiring safety goggles when throwing the stars.
“You don’t have to have a lot of upper-body strength to throw it," Miller said. "There’s more technique to it.”
Corrina Bowen works at AxeCalibur in Bloomington, which opened Nov. 2, 2022. AxeCalibur is preparing to build knife-throwing lanes, she said, so she thought throwing stars would be a good addition. However, she recently discovered the stars were illegal.
“We were pretty bummed out about it," Bowen said.
Bowen said many customers have expressed interest in using throwing stars, asking her if and when AxeCalibur will have them. Corinna said those who use them in other states have been disappointed they are illegal in Indiana.
If someone were to use throwing stars at home, they might be throwing them at something like a tree stump, she said, but places like AxeCalibur would offer more variety with options like a bullseye and games.
"That is something we definitely want to do," she said. "We feel like that would be something really fun to have at our business along with everything else that we have.”