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Learning the Ancient Arts: Knife Throwing

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Learning the Ancient Arts: Knife Throwing

When you have nothing else and you need a ballistic weapon, what about learning to throw knives and tomahawks? It takes some practice but it can be done.

Why would you want to learn to do a thing like that you might ask? Well, throwing knives and tomahawks was a Native American pastime as well as a hobby for lumberjacks back in the early 20th century.

There are several decent YouTube videos on the topic as well as some very good books.

Furthermore, it is an inexpensive hobby and skill to practice. Throwing knives are relatively cheap, and throwing tomahawks are not much more than the cost of the knives.

After you have practiced for a while you will learn to throw virtually any knife you can find. I have been practicing for about nine years now and my son has been practicing for a couple of years. We now can throw basically any knife or hatchet we can lay our hands on.

They sell actual target boards for knife throwing but you can also just use some plywood or softwood planks set up in a safe direction in your backyard. I would not recommend throwing the knives and tomahawks at living trees because you will scar them and can eventually kill them, so stick with board targets or old tree trunks.

There are several different methods to throwing knives:

  • You can throw gripping the blade
  • You can throw a knife gripping the handle
  • You can throw overhand
  • You can throw underhand

Underhand is for close distances as the knife does not spin but follows a straight trajectory to the target.


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Overhand is for distance from about four to ten yards. Knife throwing is a relatively close range activity.

The further you are away then the more the knife can change direction while traveling through the air.

The key is to try to throw consistency and then change your distance form the target until the tip of the knife sticks into the target horizontally or parallel to the ground.

Distance is what will determine your success at sticking the blade once you are throwing consistency.

Remember: Safety First.

Always wear closed toe shoes (in case you drop a knife), eye protection, and beware of the knife glancing or bouncing back off of the target if it does not stick.

Keep pets and children away and make sure you are in a safe area outside.

So, my survivalist friends think about learning a new skill and taking up a new hobby that has combative as well as entertainment purposes. Have fun and be safe and remember, “When seconds count, the Police are only minutes away!”

Want more? Check out these related articles from our site:

Knifemaking: Make a Knife from an Old Wrench

How to Keep Your Edge | Knife Sharpener

Knife on Knife Defense Tips

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. William

    January 24, 2013 at 7:28 AM

    If you wish to learn most any primitive or medieval skill, such as knife and axe throwing, archery, blacksmithing, sewing, leatherwork, cord-making, etc., you could look into the Society for Creative Anachronism or SCA. I am the Archery and Live Weapons marshall for my local SCA group, so I teach the throwing and archery. I also teach mead and wine making. We have lots of fun while learning how our ancestors did things without modern technology. We are a non-profit educational and re-creation group. Check us out at scademo.com or find the group closest to you at http://www.sca.org/geography/findsca.html.

    Yours in Service,

    William of Hawkmore

  2. Tigerlily716

    January 24, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    I’m afraid of knives, but I was afraid of guns before I started taking safety classes with my weapon. I guess I can learn to throw a knife and overcome my fears. I’ll give it a try.

    • Joe

      January 24, 2013 at 9:18 AM

      good luck to you! If you learn how to throw be sure and send in a video!

  3. JJM

    January 24, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    In my youth I would visit the loft in the barn and throw a pocket knife or even a hunting knife at the wooden floor. After consistently sticking the blade I then started throwing at boards further away. It takes much practice to determine which end to throw and how much spin depending on the distance to your target and the size of your blade. Even double pointed throwing knives can be very inconsistent in sticking at new distances.
    What have I missed in my ametuer practices?

  4. Frank

    January 24, 2013 at 10:52 PM

    I’m glad to see that you have included knife throwing as a survival skill. I have all ways thought it was.
    I have been throwing knives since I was twelve, I am now 55 years old. I started with a pocket knife and now. Can throw any thing with a point and many things that don’t. The idea being to put your opponent out of the chase. Even if the object has no point it can be used to injure them enough for you to escape or to at least get the upper hand.
    Throwing knives is a very enjoyable way to pass the time. Personally I use it to help my creative juices flowing when designing new knife models. There many things to know before using a knife as a ballistic weapon, things that are not brought to light in any knife throwing book, at least none that I have read and I have read many.

  5. mike

    January 25, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    The first thing i recommend in learning to throw a knife is at a bundle of cardboard boxes. This way it won’t bust or bend the knife tip. And it won’t have as much bounce back. So its safer. I have busted a lot of new knife tips learning to throw. And use knives made to throw. Don’t destroy a good hunting knife tip. Happy throwing…

  6. John Landry

    February 13, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    I am glad that many of you are taking an interest in knife and tomahawk throwing; it is well worth the effort to learn this ancient skill.

  7. Justin

    October 28, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    This is a great breakdown on throwing knives for beginners. Finding the right knife and practice are the keys.

  8. Thrower

    May 31, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    Yes throwing knife is fun indeed and it is actually not that hard to learn. The first you need to learn is the arc of spin of your knife and the throwing distance. And of course you will need a proper throwing knife. Don’t just pick up any knives and start throwing because you may end up ruining your knife. If you are a beginner, get some cheap throwing knives e.g. http://deadbullseye.com/what-is-the-most-popular-united-cutlery-throwing-knives/ so that you wouldn’t mind too much even they break.

  9. Carolynn Gardiner

    June 10, 2014 at 2:48 AM

    Learning throwing knife is a skilled task before that you should not try it out. One of my friend took classes on throwing knives and he succeeded. Now he is expert in it…..

  10. Pingback: 19 "Old World" Primitive Survival Skills You'll WISH You Knew Before TSHTF

  11. Pingback: Old World Primitive Survival Skills | survivalisthandbook.com

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