DIY

How To Throw A Knife

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PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
If, on your first few throws, the knife strikes edge first, with the point up, move back a foot or so and try again.

And should you wander out back to investigate the source of
that sound, chances are — if you expressed even the
slightest bit of interest in how to throw a knife — I’d put a throwing knife in
your hand, give you a few instructions (essentially the
same tips I’ll be offering in this article), and have you
sticking the blade consistently within about five minutes!

How To Throw A Knife

Of course, I doubt that many of you will ever pass my home,
but I am pretty certain that if you take the time to try
knife throwing, you’ll become as involved in the pastime as
I have. In fact, many of my neighbors who once thought my
hobby a bit strange are now enthusiastic throwers
themselves. (Even the pastor from up the road recently
asked me to help him set up a throwing target in his
backyard!)

Knife Ready . . .

First of all, you should know that your whittling or
hunting knife isn’t suited to this activity. (Almost any
knife can be thrown effectively, but those not designed for
the sport will lack accuracy, will carry the risk of cut
fingers, and will more than likely not survive too many
throws.) True throwing knives usually have dull edges,
allowing a safe and smooth release. Most such implements
are also designed to be thrown by either the handle or the
blade and are heavy enough to allow easy throwing from
relatively long distances. A quality thrower, such as one
of those manufactured by the Tru-Balance Knife Co., will be
about a foot in length and weigh approximately one pound.
(See the address at the end of the article.)

Knife Set . . .

Among the easiest types of throwing targets to build is one
consisting primarily of replaceable soft pine boards nailed
to a 3/4 inch plywood backing sheet. (This is one of the few
projects to appear in MOTHER’s pages that’s designed to be
destroyed!) To build one, first drive a pair of 2 by 4s into
the ground about four feet apart. You’ll want about four
feet of the boards to remain exposed, and to sink them
deeply enough to withstand the hammering that hard-thrown
knives can dish out. With that done, nail the 3/4 inch plywood
to the uprights. Then align enough vertical pieces of 1 inch
(or thicker) pine to cover the ply, nailing these in place
as you go. You’ll have to replace the softwood as it
becomes chewed up, so use scraps if you have them
available.

Knife Throw!

Now, holding your knife by the handle, pace of four or five
normal steps from the target, and turn to face it. Taking
one long step toward the target as you do so (right-handers
will move their left foot, southpaws the opposite), throw
the knife at the target with a simple overhand pitch,
making sure that the blade is released smoothly with no
imparted spin, and that it’s not twisted to either side as
it’s released.

If, on your first few throws, the knife strikes edge first,
with the point up, move back a foot or so and try again. If
it hits with the tip down, move forward a bit. Eventually
you’ll discover the natural one-turn range for the knife.
Mark that spot, and go on to try to find the range for a
spin-and-a-half blade-held throw (four feet or so farther
back) and then for a double spin handle-held throw (about
three or four paces back from the single-spin range). Knife
throwing requires practice — like archery, it’s a sport that
requires a lot of seemingly simple actions to mesh
correctly — but within a very short time you’ll be
getting consistent hits from the one-spin mark, and
you can then go on to improve your accuracy (paper plates
tacked to the target are good for this).

Keep in mind, as you practice, that knives can bounce back
from the target, so position any spectators well behind you
(and watch out for yourself, too). Also, never throw at a
target without first making sure that the area behind it is
free of dozing cats and the like. Once you get the knack of
it, I’m sure that you will, as I have, come to take great
relaxation and pleasure from the meditative practice of
“whoomping” a heavy piece of steel, with style and
accuracy, into an upright plank of pine.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For information on TruBal throwing knives,
write the Tru-Balance Knife Co., N. W.,
Grand Rapids, MI.


MOTHER’S Back-To-Basics Blades

The throwing knives shown here were all cut, using a
hacksaw, from 3/16 inch maid steel flat stock. They were then
sharpened, only near the points, with a bastard file.
Surprisingly enough, we found that these simple creations
performed nearly as well as comparably sized commercial
throwers, and felt that the freedom to experiment with
designs (as represented by the double pointed “beginner’s
knife”) allowed us to study front-rear balance and other
factors. (In general, we found that knives balanced at the
center point perform best for either-end throwing,
while those that are heavier toward the point or hilt throw
best when the lighter end is grasped.) Though we didn’t
temper the knives, they could be hardened by simply heating
them to a cherry red in a woodstove or barbecue and then
quenching the metal in water. If you’d like to take a very
low-cost approach to knife throwing until you decade how
great your interest will be, use the designs we’ve provided
(1 sq = 1 inch), find a scrap of mild steel stock, and gave
this simple project a try!