You don’t have to be a total Rambo type to enjoy throwing shiny, new knives across your backyard and having them find their mark on a tree stump or target board. It really is a lot of fun, but it can take awhile to get the hang of it. Plan on making dozens of throws per session. It’s recommended to start out with a set rather than just a single knife. You’ll realize why when you’re walking back and forth across your yard after every throw.
How To Get Started
All of this will be covered in more depth throughout the site, but here are some basic tips to get you started.
First: The Knives.
Tip #1: Buy A Set…Don’t buy a variety of individual knives to start out. Resist that temptation! It’s harder to improve your throwing technique when every knife you touch is different (they all rotate differently), so start with a set of identical knives, rather than one of this and one of that and one of these and one of those…
Tip #2: Start With Cold Steel Throwing Knives…They are some of the most durable throwing knives out there. They aren’t shiny and flashy, but the tips won’t bend and break on you like the cheap stainless steel jobs do. Check the sidebar for reviews of CS knives.
But if you gotta have shiny knives, I’d recommend something like the Gil Hibben Competition throwers (the large ones, not the small ones) from United Cutlery. These knives have a larger size (12 1/8 inches), are well-balanced, and are fairly durable, for stainless steel knives. Plus, their sheath is of good quality and is not likely to wear out as quickly as some of the cheaper ones. See the review of the GH Competition Throwers or the article large knives for beginning throwers for more ideas.
And eventually you’ll want to graduate to higher quality knives.
How to start out? That’s up to you and your budget.
Tip #3…Wherever you buy online, watch for deals on free shipping. That could save you a lot of money. Shipping alone is often more expensive than the knives themselves! (I made that mistake once…ONCE!)
Second: The Targets.
Don’t throw at live trees. Please.
Build a target board from 2x4s or wood planks, and mount log rounds as targets. If you can’t get a hold of log rounds, then lay some thick cardboard sheets over the face of your wood target board. The knives will stick a little easier, and you won’t have them bouncing all over the place quite as much, breaking off the tips, damaging the blade edges and possibly hurting somebody. Here are some tips on how to make your throwing knives last longer.
Note: Hosing down your log rounds real quick before throwing will soften them up and make them — and your knives — last longer.
Third: The Techniques.
If you already know some of the basics but are still having a hard time getting your knives to stick in the target, then consistency is what you need to focus on. There are many variables that affect your throwing — there’s more to it than just “finding your distance” — so read this article, “How To Make Your Throwing Knives Stick Every Time.”
For total beginners, there are several articles here that can help.
There are different ways of gripping the knives as well as different ways of throwing them. For this reason, it’s not uncommon to find different tutorials contradicting one another (even on a single website like this one). For example, it’s a little confusing when one expert says to snap your wrist and another says not to snap. Just get used to the idea that there’s no single technique that’s right for everybody…and practice everything.
Over time, you’ll find certain styles that just feel more natural for you, and those are the techniques that will take you farther in your craft.
It is often recommended that beginners start by using a hammer grip, with fingers and thumb wrapped around the handle or blade — like shaking hands or holding a hammer – rather than a pinch grip (using the thumb and index/middle finger), and throwing the knife overhand (as opposed to underhand or sidearm). This will feel more natural for many beginners, but you might end up preferring the pinch grip instead. Try both and see how you like it.
Consistency is everything when learning to throw, especially when throwing with spin. Once you have a consistent throwing motion, it’s largely a matter of finding the right throwing distance for each knife. From that point on , you’ll want to stand at the exact same distance from your target, in the exact same foot position, holding the knife exactly the same in the exact same spot, and releasing smoothly at the exact same point in the arc of the throw.
Once all the variables are consistent, your knife will rotate exactly the same way over a set distance, allowing you to stick it every time.
This consistency — especially at the beginning — will help you get the hang of it a lot faster. This is why it’s recommended to start with a set of the same knives and not a random collection of knives of all different sizes, weights, and aerodynamics.
But you’ll also want to learn how to throw without spin. This technique will give you greater flexibility and will allow for more spontaneous knife throwing — which would be essential in any tactical situation.
There are tons of videos on Youtube about throwing techniques for beginners (RC’s vids are my favorites!). You can watch all of them, if you want to, but don’t be one of those knife junkies who watches videos all day and only actually throws for 5 or 10 minutes (if at all), gets bored, and then goes back inside to watch more videos.
Well, actually you can do that if you want to. Nobody can tell you what’s fun for you.
But if you actually want to get good at throwing, then you simply need to practice. A lot. Like I always tell my son, if you want to be good at anything, you gotta put in the hours.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
Okay, that’s enough for this intro. Now go check out some knives and videos and then take your first steps into the world of knife throwing!