Category Archives: Knife Throwing Techniques

How To Consistently Throw Knives And Stick Them In The Target Every Time

“How can I get my throwing knives to stick?  I throw every day, but they keep bouncing off my target?  What am I doing wrong?”

Does that complaint/question sound familiar?  I read comments like that on pretty much every single knife throwing YouTube video I watch, every knife forum, every Q&A site, etc.  Some of us just can’t get our throwing knives to stick, no matter how hard we try.

It’s frustrating, especially when we see others doing it so effortlessly.

What’s their secret?

The Secret To Effective Knife Throwing

How good are you at throwing other stuff?  I mean, can you throw a football accurately?  Or a baseball?  Are you able to throw it right to somebody without them having to run all over the place trying to catch it?  Can you throw that baseball consistently?

If you cannot throw a ball with consistency, then throwing a knife will likely be a challenge too.

Just like throwing a ball, or any other object, effective knife throwing is all about consistency.  That’s the key.  That’s the secret.

Sounds too simple?  Well, hold on…there’s a lot to it.  There are a lot of factors to consider.  Just remember that consistency is everything in knife throwing.

The 10 Variables Involved In Throwing A Knife And Sticking It Consistently

  1. Knife Length/Weight/Balance
  2. Posture/Stance
  3. Grip
  4. Wrist Action
  5. Shoulder/Arm Action
  6. Timing
  7. Release
  8. Distance
  9. Wind/Air Resistance
  10. Target Material/Grain

The Knife Throwing Equation

Remember in your pre-Algebra class, when you started to work with variables?  You’d have an equation like:

4a + 2 = b

Then they’d have a string of questions that you’d have to “solve for.”

“1.  If a = 2, then solve for b.”

“2.  If a = 7, then solve for b.”

“3.  If b = 14, then solve for a.”

So when you change “a”, then you’ll have to also change “b” in order to balance the equation.

Well, throwing a knife is just like balancing an equation that has 10 variables in it.  Whenever you change one of those variables, you have to then go and change another variable to balance out the equation (i.e. to make the knife stick).

So if you’re doing half spin throws and you keep shifting your feet back and forth a few inches with every throw, then you’re gonna have to adjust some of the other variables too, or your knife will bounce.

Maybe you’ll need to stretch out your arm farther when throwing (shoulder/arm action), or you’ll lean forward more as your distance increases (stance/posture), or you’ll hold the blade so that it spins horizontally instead of vertically (grip), etc.

Changing variables around on purpose is all good for the experts.  But that’s not us.  As beginners, we tend to change our variables by accident — without even realizing it — that’s why we can keep changing up our distance yet still not stick the knives.

We go forward a couple inches…bounce!  So we go forward a couple more inches…bounce!  So we take a full step back…bounce!  Then we go back a couple more inches…bounce!

“GGRRRRR!!!  What the hell?!?!”  Then we give up and throw it straight down at the grass, and that punk won’t even stick in the ground!

Then we go back inside, eat ice cream and play COD till the sun goes down.

Here’s your Tip Of The Day, boys and girls:  there’s more to accurate knife throwing than just “finding your distance.”

Aim For Consistency With Every Single Variable

If you’ll notice, I put that list of variables in chronological order (mostly).  We tend to think of distance as being the first variable to focus on, but I put that further down the list for a reason…

1. Your Knife  —  Let’s start with your throwing knives.  If every knife performs a little differently, and if consistency is the name of the game, then what am I about to say next?

Use the same knives!

Did you buy one of those Ridge Runner sets that has six completely different little knives in it?  Or are you throwing your Cold Steel, then your SOG, then your Condor, then your Ziel…

Oh myyy…no wonder you’re having such a hard time.

Buy a triple set or two of the same knife, and stay with that for your entire throwing session.  Once you’re sticking those, then you can mix things up.  But if you’re only sticking one out of ten throws — or less — then you need to work with just one model at a time until you’re sticking them regularly.

Also, if you’re using cheap, little knives, try getting something with more size.  Go for something in the 10 to 13 inch range, and get at least 3 of them.  Check the articles in the sidebar or the knife comparison chart for ideas.

2. Stance/Posture  —  Second, check your foot placement and body positioning.  Are you always standing with your left foot forward?  Your right foot?  Is your back foot coming off the ground and stepping forward when you throw?

Whatever you choose to do with your feet, make sure you’re consistent.  If you keep changing your posture and foot position around on every throw, that will affect your throwing, so check your stance before you even look at your knife or your target.

I like to keep my feet — especially my lead foot (left foot) — planted firmly throughout my throw.  So I’ll keep that foot planted, take my throw (I let my back foot step forward as I throw…but that lead foot stays planted).  Then I see how my knife sticks (handle up, handle down, etc).  Then I look down and check where my lead foot is and scoot up or back accordingly.

That way, I’m already set up for the next throw and can adjust my distance easily (or keep it right where it is and adjust something else).  But if I keep mindlessly shifting my lead foot around during my throws, that makes it harder when setting up the next throw.

3. Grip  —  I like pinching the blade so that the tip of my ring finger is lined up evenly with the tip of the blade, bending my finger at the 2nd knuckle.  If you’re holding your knife a little differently every time, then that’s going to throw you off a bit.  Whichever way you choose to grip your blade, just take a moment to make sure it’s exactly the same way you held it on the previous throw…and on the next throw…and the next one too.

Obviously, the same principle applies for full spin throws from the handle.  To develop consistency, don’t just grab and throw.  Look carefully at how you’re holding your knife and replicate that grip on every throw.

4. Wrist Action  —  For evaluating your throwing/release action, you may want to record videos of yourself throwing.  Is your wrist cocked back?  Is it lined up straight with your forearm?  Does it snap forward/down as you release?

There’s more than one way to throw a knife, so I’m not going to say that you have to do it this way or that way.  But I can tell you that if your wrist action isn’t consistent, that will cause more bounces.  I like to keep mine straight and tight throughout the throw.  That just seems to be easier for me to keep track of.

5. Shoulder/Arm Action  —  This is where 90% of our inconsistency lies.  All the other variables are a bit easier to control or monitor, but arm swing can be tough.

There’s basically two ways to go here:

1).  I’m gonna break away from the common wisdom here and give you advice that makes sense to me.

Remember when I asked if you can throw a baseball with consistent accuracy?  If you can do that, then you might actually want to throw your knives the same way — like a baseball.  Why?  Because that arm/shoulder action feels natural for you, and most importantly — you’re already doing it consistently without even thinking about it.

Most experts advise against cross-body, baseball-style throwing because it’s so loose and allows for so much variation (i.e. it can be so inconsistent).  That advice is spot on…for people who can’t throw a baseball for crap.  But if you can throw from left field to home plate every time, then your arm/shoulder action is already very consistent, and that means you can dial in the other variables pretty easily.

So if you are already pretty good at throwing baseballs or footballs or whatever, then go ahead and try throwing in a way that feels natural to you.  But if you’re already throwing that way and not sticking your knives — or if you aren’t great at throwing balls anyways — then you can move right on to option #2…

2)..  Keep everything tight, the way competitive throwers do.

Keep your elbow in and forward; don’t let it drift to the outside.  After finding your stance, squaring your shoulders to the target, gripping just right, and setting up your wrist position, try extending your arm and knife straight out in front of you — pointing right at the target.

Now, bend at the elbow and bring the knife back to your shoulder, alongside your face.  Keep your elbow facing forward.  Do not let it drift to the side.  Then whip your forearm forward and throw that sucker.  You can rock forward to gain a little momentum if you need more power.  Be sure to follow through after releasing the knife.

You’re trying to eliminate shoulder rotation and just focus on elbow/triceps action.  It feels a little awkward at first, but it’s a great way to “isolate your variables”  =)  and keep your throwing motion consistent.  I think Tim Rosanelli does a fantastic job explaining and demonstrating this technique in this video…

6. Timing  —  The point at which you release the knife will also affect its rotation.  Throwing is a very natural movement for some people, and they will release the knife consistently without even thinking about it.

If you have to think about it, then think about releasing the knife just as it passes the peak of your throwing arc (i.e. where the knife is perpendicular to the ground).  Again, make sure you follow through.

7. Release  —   The way that you release the knife from your fingers is another variable that you’ll want to keep consistent.  Some knife throwers, like world-renowned knife designer Gil Hibben, prefer an abrupt release, where you basically just open your hand instantly to release your knife (think “hot potato”).

how to consistently throw knives
RC (formerly knifethrower72194) discusses and demonstrates Gil Hibben style throwing on Youtube.
Click to watch video.

Other throwers, like knifethrower72194 on Youtube, prefer a looser grip and relatively gradual release where the knife just slides out of the hand.

You’ll eventually want to play around with both methods, but for now, pick one and use it consistently until you are sticking your knives regularly.

8. Distance  —  Okay, finally we get to distance.  The goal for every beginner should be to isolate all the other variables and keep them consistent.  Once you’re doing that, then you will always stick your knife from a predictable distance.  Perhaps your half spin distance will be 6 feet, then your full spin will be 9 feet, 1 1/2 spin will be 12 feet, etc.

“Finding your distance” is a crucial part of learning to throw knives, but it’s not all there is to throwing.  That’s why you might find your 2 spin distance on Saturday, but then on Sunday you bounce 30 throws in a row from that same distance.  Finding your distance only works when the other factors are consistent too.

9. Wind/Air Resistance  —  Hey, if you’re throwing outdoors and there’s a breeze blowing through your target range, then that’s going to affect your spin and accuracy.  What can I say?  Don’t throw knives during a hurricane…

Xolette on Youtube
YouTuber Xolette shows a simple way to make a wood target board.
Click to watch her video

10. Target  — We don’t often think of this one, but even the target can throw us off.  I made a big target board using several 2x4s, kinda like the one Xolette built on her Youtube channel.

We realize that moving our feet just a couple inches forward or back can mean the difference between a stick or a bounce, so we often focus on that.

But have you considered how you prop up your target board?

If you lean it against a wall or fence, be sure to have the bottom placed at the same distance out every time.  Placing it a couple inches forward or back will change the actual distance from your fingertips to the bullseye, and even the angle at which it is leaning could have an impact.

Besides that, consider the target material itself (read that article too).

Softer targets make for easier sticks.  If you’re having a really hard time sticking knives in wood targets, try using cardboard targets instead (use several sheets glued together) as you work on dialing in your grip, throwing action, release, etc.

When your knife keeps bouncing off hard wood targets, it can be hard to tell exactly what you’re doing wrong, since it all happens so fast.

  • Did it over-rotate?
  • Did it under-rotate?
  • Did the handle hit the target?
  • What the heck happened?

But if you can get your knife to stick in a thick cardboard target, then you can figure out how much you need to adjust your rotation.

Also, keep in mind that you want the blade to strike with the grain (for wood plank/2×4 targets), not against the grain.  If the wood fibers are running side to side and you’re throwing with the blade spinning vertically, then it’s going to bounce a lot more often.

Still, your best bet is mounting log rounds or end grain targets onto your main board.  Throwing head on into the grain is going to help your knife tips hold up a whole lot longer.

————-

Okay, so I hope that this gives you some helpful ideas for improving your knife throwing technique.  If you have any tips that have helped you stick your knives better, or if you have any comments about this article, please share your thoughts below.

(Sorry, comments are closed, but you can still share your thoughts via my CONTACT page.)

Thanks for reading!

Knife Throwing Techniques 3 – Overhand Vs Underhand Vs Sidearm

Most beginning knife throwers will start out throwing overhand, as this is the most natural motion for most of us.  We throw baseballs and footballs and crumpled up homework assignments overhand, so that’s most likely how we’ll start out throwing knives too.

But at some point, we want to experiment.  Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your throwing, whether you go overhand, underhand, or sidearm.

How To Throw Knives Overhand

  1. Hold the knife straight out and point it at your target.  Your arm should be fully extended, and your shoulders should be square to the target (i.e. facing forward).  It’s up to you which grip you want to use, whether a pinch grip or hammer grip or some other funky ninja grip.  Your “throwing foot” (right foot if you’re throwing right-handed) should be back a full pace or more.
  2. Shift your weight onto your back foot while bending your throwing arm to 90 degrees or farther.  This will bring your knife back past your ear and to the rear of your head.  But we’re only moving the forearm; your upper arm shouldn’t move much.  Keep your elbow in and pointed straight ahead, directly at or just above the target.  You can experiment later with letting your elbow drift out to the side and doing baseball-style throws, but for now, keep it nice and tight.
  3. Now – while keeping your elbow aimed at the target – rock forward again, forcefully straighten your arm and release the knife just before full extension.  Finding that “sweet spot” in your swing – where to release the knife – takes a lot of practice and depends on how hard you’re throwing, how heavy your knife is, and how far away the target is.

This style is more or less how knives are thrown in competitions and knife throwing games.  There’s a lot of triceps action here, so some throwers may have difficulty initially in generating enough power for longer distance throws with heavy knives.  But it’s great for beginners because it makes for very accurate knife throwing.  It is by no means the only method of overhand throwing, nor would I want to imply that it is best for everyone.

But for a beginning thrower, it’s a great place to start.

How To Throw Knives Underhand

Once you’re sticking those overhand throws, you should give underhand throwing a try.

For spin throwing, use a palm down grip on the knife, holding it by the handle or blade, depending on your distance.  Keeping your arm straight, just bring it back behind you and step forward as you swing your arm forward.  Release when the knife is pointing at or just above the target and allow your arm to continue along its arc.  Follow-through is very important for underhand throwing accuracy.

For no-spin throws, use a palm up grip with your index or middle finger along the spine of the blade.  The steps are the same as for spin throws:  step forward with your throwing foot and swing your arm up.  This time, however, allow your arm to stop at the release point.  Release your grip and the knife’s momentum will cause it to slide right out and sail towards the target.

If you’re pretty good with overhand no-spin throws, like Thorn-style, for instance, then you can try applying that same finger flick as you release and follow-through as usual to steady the knife and keep it from rotating in the air.

The motion is almost like a scooping or shoveling action.  You’re almost not even gripping the knife – just cradling it in your hand and using your fingers as guides to send it on a straight path.

How To Throw Knives SideArm

If you suck at overhand and underhand throws, then you’ll suck at sidearm too, so you’ll probably want to practice the other methods for a while before trying to tackle sidearm throws.

The motion for throwing sideways isn’t all that different than regular throwing.  Throwing your knife with a backhand motion is similar to throwing underhand – but out to the side.  Throwing it with a forehand swing is similar to throwing overhand – but out to the side.

The difficulty, though, is in finding that sweet spot for releasing the knife.  If your release timing is off by just a fraction of a second, you could completely miss your target board and have to go searching for your knife in the grass.  So make sure your overhand throwing is good before trying forehand side throws, and make sure your underhand technique is good before trying backhand sidearm throws.

Or be prepared to spend a lot of time retrieving your throwing knives.

Learn How To Throw Knives…

Knife Throwing Techniques 1:  Spin Vs No Spin

Knife Throwing Techniques 2:  Pinch Grip Vs Hammer Grip

Knife Throwing Techniques 3:  Overhand Vs Underhand Vs Sidearm (you are here)

Knife Throwing Techniques 2 – Pinch Grip Vs Hammer Grip

Throwing knives is an ancient art. People have used it for both a form of self-defense and entertainment. Over the years people have become skilled and accurate as they discovered knives that were the perfect weight and size.

Pinch Grip Vs Hammer Grip

One key to throwing knives accurately is the way it is gripped. There are two basic ways to grip a throwing knife. They are the hammer grip and the pinch grip. Once a person understands how to hold throwing knives they are able to develop better knife throwing techniques. These techniques have improved accuracy to such a degree that people were able to develop a number of very intricate and seemingly dangerous tricks. However, because of the way the knife is gripped and many hours of practice the things experienced knife throwers are able to do are actually quite safe.

How To Throw With A Hammer Grip

For many people deciding how to throw the knives comes down to the pinch grip vs hammer grip. Many people find the hammer grip to be the easier way to hold the knife. As the name implies, the hammer grip calls for the person attempting to throw the knife to hold it as one holds a hammer. The thumb is placed on the knife smaller side of the knife. This area is called the spine. This method is said to help people get better aim. Having proper aim is crucial if one hopes to safely keep attackers at bay or complete intricate feats with the throwing knives.

Once one person has a good grip on the knife the next step is to hold the arm in the proper position. The most effective way to do this is to keep the wrist stiff while preparing to throw. Failing to do this will cause the knife to rotate uncontrollably. Throwing knives can be very sharp. If you are using are sharp knife it is essential you use the hammer grip on the handle of the knife. The weight of the knife also makes a difference in the type of grip one chooses. Heavier knives are controlled when the thrower uses the hammer grip.

Once you have mastered the grip it is now time to begin actually throwing the knife.

Grab the knife by the handle, bend your elbow at a 90 degree angle and hold your arm in front of you. Next move your hand back and up keeping your eyes on your target. When you are comfortable quickly swing your arm forward and release the knife directly at the target.

Sometimes the knife spins forward when you release it. Occasionally, it can even spin backwards. In either case it means you have put too much forward or backward momentum on the knife. Try opening your hand at the point release without too much downward pressure. A smooth release is critical with the hammer grip.  You may also need to decrease the amount of force that you used as well.

How To Throw With A Pinch Grip

The pinch grip, on the other hand, is the best method when using smaller knives.

The thumb and the index finger should be used to grip the knife, with the knife in alignment with the thumb.  This should be done in a way that turns the knife almost into an extension of the arm. It should form a straight line with the arm, from your elbow all the way out to the end of the knife. Using about 2/3 of your coiled up index finger, you should press the knife against your thumb. Some people find they have more control when they hold the knife with their fingertips, but most will press the knife into the side of their index finger.

Video: How To Throw Knives With Pinch Grip
How To Throw Knives – Pinch Grip (click to watch video)

Sensei Tim Rosanelli explains the pinch grip very clearly in this YouTube video.  Watch it if you’re new to throwing.  Some guys are great throwers but lowsy teachers, but Rosanelli breaks it down very clearly.

The pinch grip can also be used on heavier knives or to throw the knives further. To do this it requires a slight modification of the grip. When the knives are heavier or throwing at a greater distance is necessary then the knife thrower may have to use the middle finger in addition to the thumb and the index finger to hold the handle. Depending on how sharp the knife is the pinch grip can be used to hold the blade of the throwing knife. For knives that are sharpened on one side only it’s possible to hold the knife carefully and throw it using the pinch grip.

It is important when holding the knife which is sharpened on one side very carefully when you are using the pinch grip. Make sure the blade does not extend too far into the palm of your hand or you may be in danger of cutting yourself. Hold the knife so the sharp edge faces away from your palm. Hold the knife tight enough so it will not slip out of your hand too early. But do not hold it too tight. That could lead to put it in a cramped position. A relaxed throw is usually an accurate throw and when throwing knives it is very important to be accurate.

The throwing motion with the pinch grip is very different than the motion used with the hammer grip. With the pinch grip your middle finger is used to locate the knife’s center of gravity or balance point. Use your thumb and middle finger to pinch the knife at the center of gravity. Next put your index finger on the knife’s spine. Hold your arm out. Put your upper arm at a 90 degree angle relative to your torso. Next bring your next to your ear. Your index finger should be pointing towards the rear. Snap your hand downward and outward while the knife is being held loosely. This should make the knife go directly from your hand to the target.

Depending on the grip method you use either the thumb or the index finger directs the knife. That guiding finger helps the knife to resist the impetus to rotate and helps to keep it on target. It is important for people who are learning to throw knives to use identical arm and body movements and the same amount of force each time they throw. It is recommended they begin about 12 feet from the target. When they can consistently control the number of times the knife rotates and hit the target they can then move back 4 feet. They should practice throwing the knife from 12, 16, 20 and 24 feet from the target.

A smooth release is essential whether you use a hammer grip or a pinch grip. Developing the right technique will take time. However if you enjoy what you are doing it will be a labor of love. You will know the exact number of times the knife rotates before it reaches the target. This will allow you to decide if you should hold the handle or the blade when throwing the knife. For example at 12 feet the knife will rotate once, but it will rotate one and a half times when thrown from 16 feet. This will necessitate holding the blade when throwing from 16 or 24 feet.

There are pros and cons of each throwing method. The key to success is to develop a smooth, consistent motion, have the heels of both feet on line with the target and follow through.

Keep Reading…

Knife Throwing Techniques 1 – Spin Vs No Spin

There are many techniques practiced in the sport of knife throwing. If done correctly, the sport of throwing knives can generate hours of enjoyment for you and others. How do you throw with spin? How do you throw without spin? Let’s take a look.

HOW TO THROW WITH SPIN

Mike "Alamo" Bainton throws a Bill Page bowie with 1, 2, and 3 spins. (click to watch video)
17-time world champion knife thrower Mike “Alamo” Bainton throws a Bill Page bowie with 1, 2, and 3 full spins. (click to watch video)

The key to throwing with spin is consistency.  Here are some steps:

  1. Grip the knife from the blade or the handle, using either a pinch grip (thumb and index finger) or hammer grip (just like gripping a hammer or shaking someone’s hand).  If your knife is sharp, don’t use a hammer grip on the blade though.  Most throwing knives will be dull, so it’s not usually an issue, but there are plenty of guys who throw sharpened knives with spin (like this guy HERE, throwing bowie knives from approx. 7, 14, and 21 feet).
  2. Extend your throwing arm straight out in front of you, pointing your knife right at your target.
  3. Keeping your elbow pointed at the target, bend your arm at a 90 degree angle and bring the knife back beside and behind your head.
  4. Make sure to keep your shoulders square and then swing your arm down and release the knife when your arm is pointed and extended directly at the target.
  5. Make sure to keep your wrist completely stiff in order to ensure the proper rotation. If you desire to throw with a full-spin, stand at least twelve feet away from your target.

Approximate distances for half and full spin throws…

  • 1/2 spin…6-7 feet
  • full spin…11-12 feet

Also, check out this other post for a more detailed discussion of all the variables that come into play in rotational/spin knife throwing:  How To Stick Your Throwing Knife Every Time

HOW TO THROW WITHOUT SPIN

There is also the no-spin method (or several methods, actually) preferred by many people including throwing expert Ralph Thorn. In this YouTube video HERE, he demonstrates his method, step-by-step:

  1. Place your middle finger or your index finger on the spine (back/unsharpened edge) of the knife with your thumb resting on the flat side of the handle.
  2. Make sure that you have a relaxed grip.
  3. Bring up your hand straight – elbow once again at a 90 degree angle — and then draw your hand back. Release the weapon in a slinging motion by snapping your wrist straight out at your target.

SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER FOR NO SPIN KNIFE THROWING

According to Thorn, there are a lot of elements that need to be considered in order to successfully throw your weapon in the no-spin style. He notes such things as grip, wrist action, finger action and timing.

First of all, the style of grip depends on what you desire to do. An index finger grip is more versatile, whereas a middle finger grip is more powerful for long range throws.

Secondly, the wrist action will affect the accuracy of your throw. The proper wrist action consists of a slapping, or flipping action, and as Thorn demonstrates should be in a motion where it is cocked back, then brought forward

Third, Thorn suggests an action where the finger used for gripping “lightly strokes” the handle upon release. This ensures a straightened flight path for the weapon. So basically, the knife handle gently slides along the extended finger during the release.  Allowing the finger to drag along the knife during the release is crucial – it’s what keeps the knife from spinning.  Of course, there may still be some rotation, especially on longer throws, but proper technique will keep this to a minimum.

Finally, timing should be considered because it will affect how the knife hits the target. For example, if the knife is released too early, it will hit the target with the point up. If released too late, the knife will hit the target with the point down.

There are some guys on YouTube that are excellent at no spin knife and shuriken throwing.  Here are links to some of them:

redlinebo

knifethrower72194

knifeshuriken

CONCLUSION

Remember that spin vs. no spin is a matter of personal preference for the hobbyist. What about a real-life tactical situation?  I wouldn’t recommend throwing your only knife at an attacker if you can help it, but if you do choose to throw, you’ll probably find a no-spin technique to be more practical.  With spin-throwing, everything has to be so precise.  But no-spin techniques allow for more flexibility.

But that’s all hypothetical, right?  We’re not out there actually throwing knives at people, right?  Right?  [Insert boring legal disclaimer]

Right.

For most, if not all, of us, the main goal is simply to have fun!

 

Further Reading…

How To Throw A Throwing Knife Like A Pro

Learning how to throw a throwing knife can be fairly simple in theory, but it still requires regular practice for beginners.

Some martial artists and military personnel debate the tactical value of throwing knives in combat or self-defense situations, but proficiency in throwing knife techniques can be useful at some point in time. If not for the sheer fun of having a quirky talent, then for the simple possibility that some day it may save your life.

Knife throwing is also a sport with competitions taking place all around the world, and there are many associations that organize competitions and support practitioners, such as the American Knife Throwers Alliance (AKTA) and the International Knife Throwers Hall Of Fame (IKTHOF).

The bottom line, though, is that throwing knives are a lot of fun.

TYPES OF KNIVES

There are things beginning knife throwers must know in order to successfully throw a knife. One important thing is knowing the types of knives available. This knowledge will help you better gauge how to throw a knife. For instance, the usual types of knives manufactured are well balance or even balanced blades, handle-heavy blades and blade-heavy blades.

Most folding knives fall into the category of handle-heavy blades and are not all that great for throwing.  Many survival knives and bowies are blade heavy and are going to be difficult to throw too.  But keep in mind that almost any bladed weapon – throwing knives, combat knives, machetes, tomahawks, and even butterknives –  can be thrown.  But don’t rush out and just grab any kind of knife and start throwing it.  To be a good knife thrower, you need to start out practicing with knives designed for that purpose.

Having said that…

Cold Steel Recon 1 folder as throwing knife
Can a folding knife double as a thrower?  (Click to watch video)

If you’re wondering, “Who the heck throws folding knives?” — watch this video on YouTube by TopCityGear using the Cold Steel Recon 1 as a throwing knife.  That is one tough knife!  But let’s face it…throwing it over and over like that is a waste of a good knife.

As for tactical use…I’m not going to tell you what to do in a self-defense situation (except in THIS POST).  You can consult a self-defense expert on that (unless he’s an idiot he’ll tell you that you shouldn’t throw it).  But if you insist on knowing how to consistently and proficiently throw every blade you own, and the only way to throw a knife effectively is to practice throwing it a lot.

Moving on…

Knowing the type of blade or knife you are using will give you a better understanding of how the knife will rotate through the air which is extremely important when assessing your target and deciding on throwing with spin or no spin.  Getting a feel for the blade length, weight, and balance are important to know, and that will mostly just come from practice.  Longer, heavier blades are often recommended for beginners, since they are a bit easier to control.

See our reviews of various knives featured in the sidebars to help you decide what your next blade will be.

GRIPPING THE KNIFE

Another important aspect is gripping the knife correctly.  We’ve got a whole article about how to hold your knife, but here’s an intro to the topic…

There are many different ways to grip a knife, each having different pros and cons. It is recommended that a person place the tips of their index, middle and ring fingers in the middle of the blade or handle. The pinky may or may not touch the knife. On the opposite side, place the thumb in the middle of the knife as well. When throwing with this grip, all one has to do is simply open up the hand suddenly (abrupt release), or let the knife slide out of your hand by using a loose grip.

Another grip used is a full grip where the fingers wrap around the knife completely. Some call this the hammer grip or a handshake grip.  17-time World Champion knife thrower Mike “Alamo” Bainton (Executive Director of IKTHOF) uses this grip amazingly well.  Some find the hammer grip may cause interference with the throw since the fingers may get in the way during release and cause the knife to wobble. Handles with rubber grips or loose paracord grips sometimes prevent a smooth release.  Despite those obstacles, it is a very popular grip.  You’ll have to experiment to see which knives it works well on for you.

Most practitioners prefer to use a pinch grip. This is simply pinching the knife by the blade or the handle. With a blade pinch grip, the thumb would go on the middle tip of the blade and on the opposite side, the blade would be held by the middle of the index and possibly middle finger.

One variation of these grips is stretching out your index finger along the unsharpened edge of the blade to guide the throw. This would resemble pointing at something as you hold the knife. This variation is also sometimes used to throw a knife without spin, which may be done with a close target.

It should be pointed out here that using unsharpened blades is a really, really good idea when you’re first learning to throw.  Nothing cuts a throwing session short like slicing your finger open, and most throwing knives will come dull right out of the box for this very reason.  Many pros will go so far to insist that a throwing knife should never have a sharpened edge anyways.  That is a personal preference, of course, but it’s a no-brainer if you’re just starting out.

Start with a dull blade.  Only the point should be sharp to help it stick.

STANCE AND MOTION

Some throwers will start out throwing overhand with a baseball-style throw and just stick with that for years, so we’re addressing that in this article.  But you can also experiment with competition-style throwing, along with underhand and sidearm techniques too.

To throw a knife like a baseball, you…well…just throw it like a baseball.

no spin knife throwing accuracy
Great video on no-spin throwing accuracy by knifethrower72194 on Youtube. (click to watch video)

The knife is held in the rear hand with the opposite foot and shoulder facing forward. The opposite foot steps forward and the knife is thrown using full motion and follow through. As with many sports, follow through is extremely important in order to ensure proper speed, targeting and power.

Knifethrower72194 on Youtube has a nice, loose baseball-style technique that works so well for him.  Check him out.  In my opinion, he’s one of the most talented and most versatile knife throwers currently posting on YouTube.

Speed will play a large part in how accurate your throws are, as the speed at which you throw could affect rotation. Understanding distance and speed will aid in determining how to throw a knife. This is where practice comes into play, since a person can only gauge and enhance their skill by practicing over and over again.  Just start out at a distance of 5-7 feet out from your target, and increase as your accuracy improves.

So as you can see, knowing the basics of throwing a knife is simple and straightforward; acquiring some cheap yet decent quality throwing knives is quick and easy as well. As a person advances they will pick up different techniques that will improve their throwing accuracy, and as the practitioner gains a ‘feel’ for different blades, higher-quality knives will be preferred.

Knife throwing is fun and entertaining. However, like with any sport, caution should be taken and the sport should only be practiced responsibly.

Take A Closer Look At These Different Elements Of Throwing…