How to Throw a Knife (Throwing Knives Tutorial)

Category Throwing

Now you may have seen my previous post about the best kinds of throwing knives but now that you have some, you probably want to know how to throw it. Like I said in the previous post, you want to make sure that you are throwing the knife at a target which is in an open grass field so that if you miss:

  • you are not going to injure somebody
  • If you do miss it isn’t going to hit cement and crack

Gil Hibben Competition Triple Knife Throwing Set

Quick Start Guide

There is a much thorough guide after this but including a quick start for those of you that want to get the quick basics down so you can get to throwing. After you have mastered the beginner steps, come back here for some more advanced advice.

  1. The first thing you want to make sure you do is facing the right direction with the right stance. For example, if you are right handed, you will stand with your left foot forward and your right foot back, with your chest and shoulders upright. You don’t want to be leaning at this stage yet. Obviously, if you are left handed, you put your right foot forward and left foot back. This helps you get a good center of gravity and is the most accurate position for throwing.
  2. Next, you want to make sure you are holding the knife right. Now everybody likes to hold them different, but the way I prefer to do it (and many others) is to hold the tip of the blade (you know – the sharp pointy end) between your thumb and index finger with your middle finger also acting as support. I find it best if I have my thumb running the same direction as the blade.
  3. Now when you go to throw it, your body may want to throw as if you were throwing a baseball. What I mean by this is that you will want to swing your throwing arm out and then sort of bring it across your body. However, that is definitely not what we want to do when throwing knives as this is going to make the blade spin diagonally and have less of a chance of hitting the target. Instead, what we want to do is to firstly point put hand by our side. Next bring it straight up (so it is still parallel to your body) and point at your target. From here simply bend your arm so that now your elbow is pointing directly at the target and your hand (with the knife in it) should be next to your ear.
  4. When you throw it you want to ensure that you throw in a straight line and follow through. You want to release the blade basically at the point where your elbow was, but make sure your hand follows through as this will really help with your accuracy and ensuring that your blade stays on target.

Cold Steel True Flight Thrower

And there you go! However, I do understand that it can be rather difficult trying to visualize all this, so I have attached a video I found on youtube which I think explains all this perfectly (if not better).

Ultimate Throwing Knife Guide

If this is something you want to get really good at, please continue reading for the ultimate guide to throwing a knife.

Grip Type

Before you can learn to throw a knife properly, you must first know how to grip the knife. You will start out using either the handle grip or the blade grip, depending on which style of throwing knife you have chosen.

Handle Grip

Since handle throwing is the easiest to throw, it is this method that will be considered first. After you have selected a knife of the proper length, weight, and balance, one that “feels” right to you, you should grasp the handle firmly in the same way in which you would grasp a hatchet. The ball of your thumb is pressed against the rivet nearest the hilt, and your fingers are curled firmly and comfortably around the handle.

Practice Throw

With a target in position and standing approximately 15 feet from the bull’s eye, you should now be ready to try your first practice throw.

Keeping the plane of the knife vertical as it leaves your hand, throw the knife hard and fast with an overhand throw, letting it slip out of your hand when you instinctively feel that it is lined up properly with the target. The results of that first throw are not too important because, before you can expect to attain proficiency as a knife thrower, it is necessary to understand thoroughly the mechanics of the throw and the simple techniques involved.

Blade Grip

When throwing by the blade (assuming you have selected a knife designed and balanced for this style of throwing)  you grasp the blade of the knife firmly, cutting edge away from the palm of your hand (if your knife has a cutting edge), with the thumb pointed directly towards the handle. Your first, second, and third fingers are lined up on the opposite side of the blade, while the little finger can be curled up and out of the way.

From the bottom finger to the tip of the point, an inch or so of steel should protrude. This will bring the point to within 1 inch of the crease in your skin where hand and wrist are joined. It will also permit much better control of the knife than if you grasped it at the extreme tip of the point.

Practice Throw

The throw is then made with the plane of the knife horizontal. This is the method recommended for the thrower who is using a weapon with no sharp edges or a single sharp edge. With this style of knife throwing, the type of design favored by practiced professionals is a knife with no sharp edges.

The blade throw is practically the same as the handle throw. The game of baseball offers the best example of illustrating the basic points of knife throwing because in the overhand pitch the mechanics of the movements are about the same.

The Four Elements of a Throw

Four elements involved in a throw are: stance; wind-up; throw; and follow-through.

Stance

Your stance is like that of a right-handed baseball pitcher. Right foot forward on the “mound,” at a distance of four or five paces or approximately 15 feet from the target.

Wind-up And Throw

With a natural wind-up for a hard, fast throw with full power and velocity, you swing your body and left leg forward in the throwing movement while your knife arm swings back, up, and forward in a smooth circular sweep toward the target. The throw is very similar to an overhand pitch or cracking a bull whip, but without the usual wrist snap. The knife should slip from your hand just before you reach the end of your swing, at the split second you instinctively know it is lined up with the bull’s-eye.

Follow-through

The follow-through is a continuation of the throwing movement after the knife has slipped from your hand. It is carried out to the end of your full, natural swing. Knife-throwing experts, both professionals and sportsmen alike, agree completely that the follow-through is the real secret of guiding your knife accurately to the target

The key to this is that the knife must leave your hand with no wrist snap. A good rule is to let it slip from your grasp as though it were red-hot! This thought at the moment of release should do much to eliminate any potential wrist snap in the throw.

Your Distance From The Target

Since no knife flies as an arrow flies, but spins naturally end-over-end similar to a pinwheel (except in an underhand “bowling” throw of three or four feet from the target), it is necessary first to find the exact distance you must stand away from the target for a successful throw and then mark the spot so that you can stand on it each time. This is one factor that must remain constant for each distance thrown, whether you are hurling the blade for a half spin or are using the quintuple spin sometimes necessary when hunting game or giving demonstrations of your knife-throwing prowess. If you are left-handed, the technique is the same but adapted to the left-handed stance.

Now your throw has been made.

If the knife struck the target squarely, point first, you have already found your correct distance to stand each time for a successful throw. If the blade hit flat against the target with the point upward, it is necessary to step backward a foot or two. If it hit flat with the point downward, you must step forward a foot or two. If the knife struck the target handle first, you must try going a foot or two backward or forward on each throw until the weapon strikes the target squarely, point first.

Now you have found your “spot.” Dig a hole, drive a stake, but make sure that spot is marked. Pace off the distance and memorize it to the inch because from now on, you are a knife thrower! Proper coordination, which includes perfect timing and rhythm in your swing, release, and follow-through, is necessary for each successful throw. Accuracy is developed only by practice.

Proper coordination, which includes perfect timing and rhythm in your swing, release, and follow-through, is necessary for each successful throw. Accuracy is developed only by practice.

Target Distance For Blade Grip

The technique in throwing by the blade grip varies somewhat from handle throwing techniques because there is an extra half spin involved after the weapon leaves your hand. First, you must find your “distance” during a preliminary throw. If you have been standing four or five paces from the target for the handle throw on a single revolution of the knife, try six or seven paces for the blade throw of 1 and a 1/2 spins.

You need the extra pace or two since the weapon will be leaving your hand handle first, and it should be thrown with the plane of the blade horizontal. If you have accurately determined your distance for the 1 1/2 spin throw and hit the target squarely, point first, you have quickly learned the basic technique for throwing a sharp-edged knife by the blade. If it failed to stick, you must again experiment backward or forward, as in the handle throw, until you have found your exact spot upon which to stand each time for a successful blade throw. Again, memorize and mark that distance to the inch and make it a point to throw from that same distance every time you hurl the knife by the blade for a 1 1/2 spin throw.

Extending The Target Distance

Eventually, the time will come when you will want to stick the knife at a greater distance, such as a double spin by the handle or 2 1/2 spins by the blade. Regardless of the number of spins involved, the knife should always be thrown hard and fast with your full velocity and power; and, of course, with a greater distance to the target involved, the more power the better!

The additional distance required to get that extra spin averages out to about three paces. For example, if you get a perfect single-spin throw by the handle at five paces, you can expect to get a perfect double spin at eight paces. The same rule applies to the blade throw when increasing the range from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 spins. And the same for a triple spin, and so on.

The reason you need a five full paces for the single spin handle throw as opposed to eight paces for the double spin throw is that the movement of the body and knife hand forward from the original stance consumes about two paces of the distance before the weapon actually leaves your hand.

The knife in flight may make its complete turn in three paces from the target, or a double turn in six paces from the target; but you have to add the additional two paces for the mechanics of the throw, regardless of one, two, three, or more spins, up to the maximum controllable distance of five spins. You will have to allow for the greater distances involved in multiple spins by increasing the trajectory or line of flight of the knife, the same as you would if you were throwing a baseball 100 feet instead of only half that distance. So remember to throw it hard and fast at any distance involving one full spin or more.

You will find, after much practice, that you can keep reasonable control of the thrown knife up to approximately 50 feet. The big job then is to be able to hit the target at that distance, to say nothing of getting the weapon to stick squarely.Throwing a knife at a longer distance is not too practical for ordinary target practice unless you are training for accuracy in hunting game.

How to Develop Accuracy

What can you do to develop accuracy? This question becomes uppermost in the mind of a knife thrower when they have mastered getting a knife to successfully stick into a target area on every throw and now want to focus on hitting the bull’s eye.

A properly designed, well-balanced throwing knife will stick practically every time when hurled for one or more spins if the weapon is thrown by an experienced knife thrower who knows his own correct distance from the target. Getting that pin-point accuracy, however, is another, matter!

Perhaps “pinpoint” is the wrong term to use since most target faces are considerably larger than pinpoints and usually range in size from a few inches in diameter to a foot or more in width. But even a circular target eight inches across is hard to hit consistently unless you develop and master a “point-of-aim” technique for your knife throwing, similar to that employed by archers. The point-of-aim in target archery is a “sighting mark” used for indirect aiming of the arrow point to enable the marksman to drop his arrow into the “gold” or bull’s-eye, at the regulation distance being shot.

In knife throwing, the point-of-aim is only one of several guiding factors needed to develop accuracy. Above all, concentration is essential, but this alone is not enough unless it is combined with other techniques. One of these is constant practice with one special knife or matched set. It is exactly the same as top performers in other sports, including archery, golf, bowling, and tennis.

In each of these endeavors, the performer has his favorite “instrument”, be it a putting iron, a specially weighted and fitted bowling ball, a tennis racket, or an archery bow. The same is true for a throwing knife. When you find a knife of a certain design, length, weight, and balance that you feel is “right” for you, you have won half the battle. The rest is practice, concentration, instinct, and last but not least that little point-of-aim.

Point-Of-Aim

Assume that you have a throwing knife that fills you with complete confidence. It feels just right in your hand and throws beautifully. However, although you stick it squarely every time, you can’t seem to nail that elusive bull’s eye more than once or twice out of every five or even ten throws. How do you go about correcting the situation?

First of all, walk up to the target and place what almost amounts to a proverbial “pinpoint” exactly in the center of your circular target face. This pinpoint can be a tiny half inch circle of white adhesive tape if used against a dark background. If your target face is white, cut your pin-point out of black electrical tape. It is important to position it as closely to the center as possible because every throw you make from that moment on should be aimed not at the target face in general, but at that precise, little pinpoint.

All through the various knife-throwing movements, stance, wind up, throw, and follow through, keep both eyes fixed steadily upon that tiny half inch “point-of-aim” in the center of you target face. Use all your powers of concentration to imagine that will draw your blade irresistibly to it for a perfect, point-first hit.

Now make that first throw. If your knife does not stick in the center or somewhere near the center of the target area, throw over again. Keep throwing, but watch carefully where each throw sticks. Soon you will observe that a “pattern” begins to take shape. Perhaps most of your throws will wind up about three inches to the right of your pin-point, somewhere near the three o’clock position, for example.

It is now a simple matter to start correcting your trouble. Take the adhesive-backed pinpoint and move it at the nine o’clock position on the target face.

Again, concentrate completely on that pinpoint, which is your point-of-aim, and try to hit it squarely with each throw. Forget all about the true center of your point-of-aim, that little half inch pin-point.

Much sooner than you realize, you will find that your knife is hitting almost center and that your problem is solved.

Once you master this knife throwing point of aim technique, that half-inch pinpoint can become strictly imaginary. And with continued practice, concentration, and your natural aptitude and instinct all working together for you, it shouldn’t be long before you will be hitting almost everything at which you throw your knife squarely and on the button.

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