How To Throw a Throwing Knife – The Techniques Every Beginner Should Know
If you’ve ever witnessed someone throwing a knife and successfully impaling a target, you know it is an impressive sight.
Throwing 3 knives in quick succession and getting your aim spot on is no easy task however. Yet, if you are a beginner by the end of this article you will have all the knowledge required to start your journey as a knife thrower – the right way.
First we will look at the types of throwing knives available and the best kind of targets beginners should use as well as preliminary safety concerns.
Then we will reveal the proper grip and stance you should employ if you want your techniques to mimic the professionals.
Finally, we will go in depth on the various styles of throwing and exactly how you can execute them.
Before you know it, you will be throwing knives with the speed and accuracy of The Great Throwdini.
Types of Throwing Knife
In our recent top 5 best throwing knives review article, we covered the various types of thrower you can buy.
The majority of throwing knives available come in packs of 3. This is great for the beginner as it minimises the amount of walking to and from the target as you practice.
The main issues you should consider when buying your first set of throwing knives is balance, weight and strength.
Most professional throwers use a balanced knife, and while in some circles it is suggested that a blade heavy knife is easier for beginners, (as this is supposed to provide better rotation in the air), we are in the camp that disagrees with this.
A well-balanced knife may have a slightly harder learning curve, however by opting to use what the professionals use from the beginning, you will be putting your self in good stead in mastering the proper throwing techniques from the start.
Our top 5 review article went into great detail on what to look for when buying your throwing knife, however as a beginner a balanced knife of 12 inches or more in length and of good weight (of at least 10 to 12 ounces) should be what you look for.
The Best Throwing Knife For Beginners
Our recommended knife for beginners is actually our top pick knife for 2017. The United Cutlery GH2033 Gil Hibben Triple Knife Throwing Set with Sheath combines excellent balance, good heft and all in one stainless steel construction (with no embellishments on the handle to get in your way.)
This sturdy throwing knife set will set you on the right path as a competent thrower as soon as you begin. Highly recommended.
The Three Rules of Knife Throwing
The guys in fight club had 4 rules, but two of them were not talking about fight club. While you can tell anyone you want about your knife throwing ambitions, there are 3 basic rules (or you can call them goals) that you should follow.
Whether you are throwing a knife for the first time or are a seasoned vet with a spinning damsel on a wheel – thrower safety can never be ignored or taken for granted.
Thankfully, the safety concerns you should have are all very much self-explanatory. For instance, common sense would dictate that you never throw while barefoot.
Avoid practicing your throwing techniques where other people may disturb you, or children or animals may inadvertently come trotting into the path of your knife.
To make things easier, heres a few steps you should follow when knife throwing:
- Practice away from other people, children and pets.
- Set your target away from anything that should not be inadvertently struck by a wayward throw. This means your house, the shed, cars, gas containers, etc.
- Be sure to inform anyone nearby what you are doing.
- Pay attention to what you are doing as well as your surroundings.
- Use the proper equipment, study the techniques and ensure your grip, stance and throwing style are as they should be.
- Wear suitable shoes.
- Carry a file to remove burrs from your knives. Tweezers are useful for any splinters. Keep a cloth handy to wipe both your knives and your hands throughout your practice session.
- Do not aim at anything where error could cause either injury or property damage until your accuracy level is by all intents and purposes 100%.
Accuracy is the most basic goal when it comes to knife throwing. Everything from purchasing the right knife and adopting the proper techniques are all directed to achieving accuracy.
Remember however, that when starting out you cannot expect to be spot on from the very first throw. If your accuracy needs working on, you can always adjust your distance from the target, (i.e step a little closer) or try a different throwing style.
Persistence and hard work pay off here. The more you practice the higher the accuracy you will achieve.
The third main goal to strive for is consistency. This follows on from accuracy. When you begin you might be accurate one in 10 throws. Higher consistency will see that gap close until you are accurate 7 out of 10 throws, (and eventually higher).
Practice your techniques until you are accurate with as many throws as possible. Then you can try different techniques and knives to continue developing your skill set.
Choosing a Throwing Target
Wood is the best target you can use, especially as a beginner knife thrower. While a round piece of wood with target diagrams are clearly the ideal, there is nothing stopping you from starting out aiming at a discarded plank you found in the shed.
All the same, here are some ideas on what you can use as a target for knife throwing:
- Wooden Planks– The aforementioned plank of wood. Everyone has some of these laying about the place. The wider plank you can find, the better.
- Scrap wood or firewood– Local classifieds should give details of firewood merchants, this is an affordable way of getting cheap wood.
- Lumber yards– Visit your local lumberyard and see if they have any scrap wood that will be thrown. This will often be ideal for a target.
- Friends– If any of your friends have large gardens or have recently ripped out an old kitchen, they may well have some old wood that needs a new home. Get the word out and you will be surprised how forthcoming some people will be.
The best types of wood for a knife throwing target
Soft woods like Cottonwood, Pine, or Poplar make the best targets. Your knives will stick into them easier as the wood is soft and easier to impale.
Hardwoods like Oak, and plywood are harder to penetrate, especially in the beginning stages of knife throwing. Be patient and know you can move on to tougher woods once your experience level has reached that stage.
How To Hold a Throwing Knife
Step 1. Getting The Right Stance
The stance is the foundation of your overall technique so this is important to get right. Your footing and posture are the key ingredients here. The following guidance will help:
- While adrenalin and nerves may get the better of you to begin with, keeping your body relaxed is important. A tense stance is counter-productive.
- Standing up straight for better precision body movement and a more accurate throw.
- Your right foot should be placed forward with the left foot slightly behind. (Swap this around if you are left handed).
Get comfortable with your stance before you even pick up the knives. Try out your position by throwing a ball at your target – be loose and relaxed and ensure you feel at ease.
Step 2. The Proper Grip
There are two main ways in which you can grip the knife; either by the handle or by the blade.
If you own an unbalanced knife you will want to hold it by the lightest end so that the heaviest end is thrown first leading to more force entering your target. A balanced knife means you can choose whichever end suits you best.
Holding the knife by the area of your choosing, you should ensure your fingers are positioned in one of the following ways:
- Hold the knife with your index, middle, and ring finger.
- Your thumb should be curled on the opposite side of the knife.
- Position your thumb and fingers towards the center of the knife.
- The tip of the knife should be pinched between your thumb and second knuckle of your index finger.
- The rest of your hand should be curled into a fist-like grip.
- The knife should be positioned vertically.
- Grip the knife with your entire hand like a hammer.
- Your thumb should rest on the top edge of the blade or handle depending on your chosen grip area.
- The knife should be held horizontally
- Grip it with your entire hand much like the McEvoy grip, (i.e like a hammer)
- Rest your thumb on the side of the knife
How To Throw A Throwing Knife
And now we get to the bit you have all been waiting for. Below you will find detailed descriptions of the most popular types of knife throwing techniques. We have especially selected those that are most suitable for beginners.
Where possible we have also included some relevant Youtube videos, because as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is better still. (Well that’s what we say anyway).
Throwing a half-spin
The most popular knife throwing technique is the half-spin. The style gets its name from the fact the knife performs a half-spin between leaving your hand and reaching the target.
Positioning yourself about 15 feet from the target is a good starting point. As you develop or see fit you can adjust this distance accordingly.
To perform the half-spin knife throwing technique you should:
- Assume the stance you find comfortable, with your shoulders square towards the target.
- Grip your knife using one of the styles we detailed above.
- Raise the knife as if you are about to hammer a nail into a wall. (The blade should be at eye level in front of you).
- Pull your arm back, and step forward into a moderate throw. (Use the weight of the knife for trajectory rather than the full force of your arm).
- Release the knife when its fully in front of you
- Let your arm and body follow through as you would when throwing a baseball
The no spin throw
This knife throwing technique goes against trades description slightly. The knife does spin in the air, but only finishes a ¼ spin before striking the target.
To perform this style of throw you will need to be closer to the target than the ½ spin throw. A good rule of thumb is to half your distance from the previous style throw; in line with the above instructions that would be between 7 and 8 feet.
The grip for this throw actually works best with a balanced knife:
- Assume your established stance.
- Rather than adopt one of the grips described above, you should hold the knife by the handle between your thumb and the second knuckle of your middle finger.
- Then, with your index finger placed along the back edge of the handle, curl the rest of your fingers over.
- Raise the knife in the air with the tip of the blade pointing to the sky.
- Now, keeping relaxed as possible, you should bend your shoulder, (not the elbow).
- Practice your aim by pointing the tip of your knife toward the target.
- When ready, step forward into your throw, ensuring that the knife is released from your hand once the tip is pointing at the target.
- Follow through with your arm. Your index finger should be pointing at the ground at the finish of your throw.
Throwing The Full-spin
To complete the full spin throw you will once again have to adjust your distance from the target. This time you double up from the ½ spin throw. If you were 15 feet away for that, you must now stand 30 feet from the target.
The same rules apply here as the ½ spin, namely:
- Adopt your comfortable stance
- Choose your knife grip style of choice
- Raise the knife as if you are about to hammer a nail into a wall
- Pull your arm back, ensuring to use the weight of the knife rather than the full force of your throw
- Release the knife when it appears in front of you.
Spin and a half, and the two-spin throw
As far as the amount of spins and distances you throw from the target – as you grow more competent you can practice with all manner of variables.
Competition knife throwing generally goes up to two spins. For this you will have to be further from the target and will need to exert more force into the throwing action.
But we are jumping the gun a bit. For beginner throwers experimenting with grip styles and throwing styles, while keeping in mind the 3 goals of safety, accuracy and consistency are the order of the day.
That’s It! Well done, you are now a knife thrower!
If you have practiced any of the above techniques and your knife has stuck firmly in the target, congratulations your journey into the dynamic world of knife throwing has begun.
If however you are finding that your knife is bouncing off one too many times, you may want to check the following:
- Your knife tip is sharp enough to penetrate efficiently
- The target wood is soft enough
- You are choosing the right distance from the target for the throw you are executing
- Your throwing style is being executed with the correct amount of force.
Recommended throwing knife set for beginners
[Image Credits: Knife Depot, Paintball UK, Photo Bucket / Ark Angel]