The cold steel rests comfortably between your fingers as you stare intensely at the target about 13 feet away. The whole world fades away as you put all your energy into the 12-inch throwing knife that propels toward the roughly 4-inch wide bullseye.
Not many things in life can top the 2-second sequence when you throw a knife at a target because it requires concentration, practice and skill. While throwing knives for fun or competition might look hard at first, it's not that difficult to get started.
Here's everything you need to know about getting starting with throwing knives.
Why You Should Learn the Art of Knife Throwing
While reading this, you may be on the fence about whether or not to learn knife throwing, especially if those around you may not understand your interest in the hobby. Here are four compelling reasons why you should pick up a throwing knife.
1. Throwing Knives a Part of History
If you're a knife buff, chances are you're a history buff. The art of throwing knives stretches back to prehistoric times and is filled to the brim with interesting history you can relive in your backyard with just a target and some throwing knives. Throwing knives and other devices were used by Native Americans and African tribes, not to mention Japanese warriors. Read more about the history of throwing knives.
2. You Can Make It Competitive
If you're down to just hang out in your backyard and let out some steam throwing knives, you can, but knife throwing is also a sport. Many organizations, such as the American Knife Throwing Alliance, have local competitions around the country that pit the best knife throwers against each other. If you need a little competition as motivation to be the best, knife throwing can give you that.
3. Knife Throwing as Entertainment
This one may be a no-brainer, but knife throwing doesn't have to be intense. It can be a relaxing and fun hobby akin to something like playing pool or throwing darts. Instead of wasting money going out or finding temporary entertainment, a good set of throwing knives and a target can offer countless hours of entertainment.
4. It Can Be Very Sociable
When you want to take it easy by yourself, knife throwing can accommodate, but it's also a great way to be social and make new friends. You can join competitions or hold informal gatherings in your backyard. If that doesn't float your boat, you can easily invite your friends over and teach them how to throw knives.
How Long Does it Take to Learn Knife Throwing?
This one depends on your consistency and the time you put it each week. But generally with regular practice you can learn knife throwing in 6 months if you are practicing 6 hours a week.
Basic Types of Throwing Knives
Before moving on to the instructional part of this article, it's important to look at the different types of throwing knives. There are, in fact, other throwing devices like the tomahawk and shuriken, but you can learn more about those as you become more advanced. Here are the three basic types of throwing knives.
1. Blade-Heavy Throwing Knife
The names of each type are fairly self-explanatory. A blade-heavy throwing knife is one that has more weight in the blade than in the handle. Although it's a little confusing at first, you want the heaviest end of the knife being thrown first, so you would grip the handle of this type of knife when throwing. Blade-heavy are sometimes considered ideal for beginners because they're easier to learn how to throw from the hammer technique.
2. Handle-Heavy Throwing Knife
A handle-heavy throwing knife features the bulk of its weight in the handle, meaning you would want to throw the knife so that the handle goes first. Since this requires you to hold the blade end of the knife, beginners may have a hard time getting used to it.
3. Balanced Throwing Knife
The two previous types are unbalanced, but on balanced knives, the center of gravity is in the middle. This makes it possible to throw from either the blade or handle without consequence. The rotations on balanced throwing knives are more predictable, but some beginners have a hard time at first with these types. Still, these offer much more flexibility.
Best Throwing Knives for Beginners
One of the best things about knife throwing as a hobby is that it doesn't require tons of supplies or startup costs to get going. In fact, many of the best throwing knives for beginners are very inexpensive and provide excellent value. Take a look at some of the best.
When it comes to the best throwing knives for beginners, it's hard to top anything from Gil Hibben. These are simple one-piece throwers from Hibben — a member of the International Knife Throwers Hall of Fame — at a reasonable price. This is an updated design of his original throwers. Each thrower is 11 inches long and is made from tempered AUS-6 stainless steel.
At less than half the price of the Hibben set, you can pick up the Precision Balance set. Although these are not competition grade, they do carry several advantages that make them worth your while. First, the set includes 12 throwing knives. This is great for beginners because you don't have to stop and retrieve after every throw. Second, they're lightweight so it's easy to carry them with you to a buddy's house.
If you're just getting into throwing, you might not have heard the name John Bailey yet... but you will. He's a professional knife thrower who has a knack for designing throwers as well. His Mini Bo-Kri set, which was picked up by Boker Magnum, is one of his best designs for beginners. Each of the three curved knives in this set stretches nearly 11 inches. The throwers are very durable and can withstand all the beginner's abuse you can throw at it.
Smith & Wesson is best known for its guns, but the brand also makes some solid options for knives. This set is one of them. These throwers get high marks for their good balance, lightweight design, and easy carrying/storage case.
What makes this knife stand out from the others on this list is that it's not a set and only comes with one throwing knife. While that may sound like a pain to have to reset after each throw, beginners have praised this knife for helping them master the art of knife throwing. The knife has a total length of 12 inches and comes with a paracord wrapped handle. And because it's a Cold Steel, it will rarely break through normal use. As one of our customers put it, "If you break this knife by throwing it you should consider a different hobby."
One of the most satisfying things about knife throwing is the sound of that thwack as your knife sticks into the wood. As a beginner, you hear it less often than you'd like. However, these three throwers from SOG somehow just stick more than others. These are good knives to start with and help you look good in the process.
Finally, we have the United Cutlery Lightning Bolt Triple Throwing Knife Set. These knives are a great value for the money. You get three throwing knives and a sheath that can be worn on a belt or via shoulder harness. You'll be throwing knives like an old pro in no time, but you will eventually want to upgrade after a few thousand throws.
Beginner's Guide to Throwing a Knife
Now that you have a little more info on why you should learn knife throwing and the types available, it's time to get down to business. Here are the basic steps to throwing a knife.
Start with the Hammer Grip
There are several ways you can grip a knife when you're throwing it at a target, but we're starting with the most basic throwing-knife grip: the hammer grip. The hammer grip is by far the easiest for beginners. As you might imagination, you hold the knife as you would a hammer. The fingers of your dominant hand should be wrapped around the handle of the knife and your thumb should be touching the handle at the top for extra control.
Get into the Right Stance
Stand about 10 feet away from your target. If you're right-handed, put your left foot forward and have your right foot back, with your feet forming a 45-degree angle. Slightly bend your knees and make sure you're stable.
Keys to Getting the Throw Down
Again, if you're right-handed, your left hand should be pointing at the target as if you're aiming. Bring the knife in your right hand straight back above your head. Propel the knife back down as though you're a butcher making a chop, Shifting your weight forward, let the knife fly. One of the hardest parts is knowing when to release the knife, but the key is to practice and be consistent in your throw. As you practice, slightly alter your release time and throw to correct any issues.
For more information and products related to knife throwing, check out our throwing knives section.