Introduction: Knife Throwing

Picture of Knife Throwing

DISCLAIMER- I am not responsible for any miss-use of the information within this Instructable. It is intended to be used by adults who are not a risk to themselves or anyone else. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS. Please take this very seriously, use this skill responsibly and enjoy the sport.

This Instructable is layed out assuming that you know jack-didly about knife throwing.

You may ask yourself, "Why do I need to learn to throw knives?"
Well that's a good question, but the answere is even better...

What if the fall of western civilization knocks on your door tommorrow?
What if zombies.... Okay I'm just joking. (But it could happen ;) )

A good reason to take the time to learn this art is simply because it's fun. Remember when you were a kid learning to play poker for the first time? What about chess? Any game like that really. Why do we play those games? How do they intertain us?

They're a challange. It makes you think about what you're doing, what you want to happen, and why it did or did not happen.

Not to mention that you'll be able to cleave razor sharp shinny things through the air when you're done. (And actually hit what you where aiming at)

Step 1: Picking a Knife to Throw

Picture of Picking a Knife to Throw

The first step is picking a knife to throw.
There are thousands upon thousands of commercially available throwing knives out there. Different styles are plentiful; some are great, some are useless. "Leaf Throwers" are among my favorites, their characteristic "Leaf" shaped symmetrical blade is where there name comes from. There are also some more trditionally shaped single edged knives, and nonsymmetrical double edged knives like the "Hibben Pro 2" and it's copies, there's even a totally bizare "Torpedo" which is a round double pointed throwing rod, and many more. There are also knives with positionable weights on the handle and blade, personally I think these are usless.

You can technically throw any knife with a suitable ballance point. Knives with bulky handles are a bad idea, and you generally want to stay away from folders, due to there handles they can be very inaccurate and they tend to ballance funny.

For this Instructable, I did however pick a folder, so it can be done. But I suggest against it for someone new to throwing.
In fact a Leaf Thrower is what I'd suggest you start learning with.

Here are some of the knives I discrbed...

Step 2: Holding the Knife

Picture of Holding the Knife

How you hold your knife is one of the most important things to master. There are a few different ways of holding it, largely based on comfort. The Hammer grip, which is when you hold it like a hammer... The Blade grip, which is a lot like the hammer grip but you're holding the blade not the handle. The Tip Pinch, self explanatory, you pinch the tip of the blade between your thumb and your index finger.

The Method of throwing that I use uses both the Hammer Grip and the Blade Grip alternatingly at different ranges, always holding the knife with the index finger on the ballance point.

Step 3: Stance and Facing

Picture of Stance and Facing

This is where Stance and Facing come in.
Knife throwing is about repetition, one of the things you must learn to repeat like a robot is your stance.

You Start by selecting your throwing arm, so if you're right handed go with that, and opposite for you lefties. Since I'm right handed, we'll go with that, so lefties just do the opposite.

Your feet should almost be in-line at the heels, with the feet turned outward around 45 degrees from each other. Your back foot is the side that's throwing (my right foot), and the front foot is the non-throwing side (my left). There should be one foot length between your feet (your foot, not the measure).

You want your shoulders square to the target. In other words you should face durectly at it. Your weight should be on the BALL of your REAR foot (the ball of your ankle)

Step 4: Distance and Ranging

Picture of Distance and Ranging

Now comes Distance and Ranging, Rotations and Half Rotations, and Knowing when to use the two alternating grips. All of which you must repeat like a Robot.

First, a description of Rotations. Undoubtedly (or hopefully), you'll notice that when you throw your knife as described, it spins about it's balance point, top over bottom. We want that pointy end to hit first, right? To do that you must count rotations between you and your target before you throw the knife.

Wait a second... Did he say before?? Yes, BEFORE.
The very first time you throw your knife you wont know how to do this, that's Okay.

The process is really quite simple.
When you throw your knife the same every time (and correctly), you'll notice that you can stick it in your target more easily at different ranges than others. Those ranges are usually pretty even multiples of the distance I call "The Sweet Spot". For me, this is between 6 and 7 feet. That's because the "Sweet Spot" is how far your knife travels before it makes one half rotation at your throwing speed.

Say hypothetically that I am 6 feet from my target, I would hold the knife by the blade and when I throw it, it will make one half rotation to the target sticking in point first.

Now say that I was 12 feet from the target, that's enough space for 2 half rotations or 1 full rotation. So in this case I would simply hold the knife by the handle, and when I throw it, it will make 1 full rotation to stick in the target tip first.

If I were 18 feet from the target, I would hold the knife by the blade again, because the knife will rotate One and a Half times between me and the target.

So if your sweet spot number happens to be 6 feet than, 6 feet is 1/2 rotation so you'd hold the blade, 12 feet is 1 full rotation so you'd hold the handle, 18 feet is 1 1/2 rotation so you'd hold the blade again, et cetera.

After you find out what your "sweet spot" number is you still can't throw until you know how far away your target is. This can be tricky with bizarre numbers, but you'll only be dealing with multiples of the same number. One way is of coarse experience and practicing with your depth perception. With all the words in the world I can't give you that experience, so that you'll have to just practice and repeat. Another much simpler way to estimate your range, is to simply imagine yourself laying on the ground with your feet against the target, and a bunch of your clones lined up the same way head to toe until you get to where you're standing. For me, being 6 feet tall and having a sweet spot of 6 feet this is easy.

Remember, your sweet spot distance will probably be different than mine, as it mainly depends on how hard you throw. My suggestion is that you start at around 9 feet and move up closer until you see the knife point hit first, rather than the side or the back.

You'll find yourself getting frustrated, and throwing harder, when this happens, put your knife down carefully and go do something else for a while.

Step 5: The Throw

Picture of The Throw

You must learn to repeat this like a robot.

After you've got your knife, and you're comfortable in your stance, you have to throw. Hold the knife in the blade grip at first, and face the target at about 7 or 8 feet for your first throw. Hold your left hand and your right hand with the knife, a foot or so in front of your chest pointing at the target. Always keeping your wrist stiff, bring your knife up with your elbow bent at 90 degrees and your arm strait out to your side. Much like throwing a baseball, but your chest is facing the target. Throw!
While you throw you shift your weight to your front foot as the knife passes over it.

The repitition here is in always throwing with the same effort, and keeping that wrist stiff.

Step 6: The Handshake

Picture of The Handshake

No you do not shake hands with the wood you're throwing at, you'll just get splinters. Instead a "Handshake" describes how you release the knife. When you release the knife, your hand needs to be open, like you're "shaking hands with the target".



You need to repeat, like a robot, your stance, the way you hold the knife, distance estimation, the way you aim, "The Handshake", and shifting your weight to your forward foot.

Without consistently repeating the crucial steps to throw your knife, you'll never hit your target, instead you're more likely to hit your neighbor's cat.

On that note, please be careful as to what is behind whatever you're throwing at.

Remember... Be the Robot...

Step 8: Advanced Throwing

Picture of Advanced Throwing

After you've mastered the basics, and became a robot, you can move forward with your throwing skills to great lengths.
You could partake in competitions, stunts, use the skill for self defense, or even hunting. (be sure to check with your local fish & game department before that last one)

You can also start increasing your throwable range. You do this by selecting a heavier knife. Now obviously if you try to throw a 1 pounder the same as you throw an 8 ouncer it's not going very far at all. What you've got to do then is basically re-learn to throw with the heavier knife. You'll have to throw a lot harder, which means that you'll also need to find your new sweet spot. But after you've mastered the heavier knife, you'll be able to go hunting, and probably out-class all of your friends in distance (that is, accurate distance).

As far as hunting goes, you are pretty limited on the size of animal you can take, Varmint are really the only thing to throw at, and even then, only the smaller ones. To hunt with a knife, you want to choose a knife with some weight to it, and you want to sharpen it beyond rediculasly sharp (At least the tip and up an inch or two). This is only for very advanced throwers, one very small mistake and you'll need stitches.

At 2 pounds the Cold Steel "Torpedo" was made for Varmint.
Bunny Beware...


YouNeverKnowItUntil (author)2016-07-07

Also at what point of the throw do I release the knife? Is there also a sweet spot?

YouNeverKnowItUntil (author)2016-07-07

Why are you holding it with your left hand in the picture

McJarod_ImLovinIt (author)2016-01-02

yea sorry but pocket knives = garbage for throwing

AnarchistAsian (author)2008-11-10

is this all stuff you learned from a master, or are you just making this up? cuz i think you're just showing what you think is the right way... (author)AnarchistAsian2008-12-30

isn't that basically the fundaments of martial arts? a random bloke who fought alot thinking that he was so good because of his moves, showing off to random people who also remembered several moves... then they showed off... ect

AnarchistAsian (author)mr.space2008-12-30

well, there's a difference, because there are other people who have hundreds of year's worth of knowledge, and years of experience, so what they learn is perfected knowledge, while this guy's just throwing knives...

he should take classes or something... yes, there are classes for throwing knives...

I find that comment repulsive. Get off your high horse and put yourself into perspective. There are easily over a dozen different styles & techniques that I have seen personally, this is just one, so if you don't recognize it and think it's ineffective than you display a great flaw in underestimation. Your comment about the martial arts is correct and incorrect. There is a great Chinese parable about a Master, his Student, and his Techniques: The story basically goes that after three years of training the Student was very pleased that he could perform every movement exactly the same way and with the same feeling as his Master. The Master asked the student to leave and practice on his own for three years and then return to him. After three years of practice the Student returned to see his Master but was ashamed because he had lost the feeling he had three years prior and about one third of the forms are different from what the Master had taught him. The Master said "No Good! Come back after another three years of practice!" So after three more years of practice the Student returned to his Master now even more ashamed to say that he had lost even more feeling of the Masters techniques and that now about two thirds of the Forms were different from what the Master had taught. Again the Master was displeased and sent the Student away to practice for another three years alone. Once Three years had past the student returned with his head hung low, unable to even look his Master in the eye and said "Master I have failed you! Now after these last three years I have lost all of the feeling of your techniques and ALL of the forms are different from what you have taught me." When the Master heard this he laughed loudly and said "Great! You have done well! Now the techniques you have learned are YOURS and NOT MINE anymore." The moral to this story is that creativity in the arts (martial or not) is crucial or the art will "die". The purpose of studying under a Master is to learn the essence of the art, NOT to perfect it. The most important trait for a martial artist to have if he is to "master" an art is the ability to think abstractly. If one technique is used to do only one thing than the art is dead (at least in the particular artist). However, if you can wrap your mind around the essence of an art, it's techniques, and fundamentals, in a way that you can apply them to multiple situations not pointed out by your teacher, than you will master it, this takes incredible time. If you cannot, then you are a cyclic repeater (I do this, you counter like that...every time). This is ultimately the fundamental basis of all of my martial training (Shaolin White Crane, Taijiquan, & Wing Chun). That theory can backfire however if the techniques you develop are inferior to the original than you have lost the essence of the art, which is why it takes time. I was taught the basics of knife throwing and developed through trial and error my own modifications on the techniques. My knife throwing skill is just as proficient as the techniques used by the person who introduced me to knife throwing when I was 9, this is 14 years later.

ok... ok...

i was just saying...

i was just thinking: there are people who have practiced techniques which had hundreds of years to perfect and develop, which is better than some guy who threw knives in his back yard for a "couple of years", you don't have to be so pissed off or anything

I'm not mad, quite the contrary. I was simply trying to help you understand that a given amount of time that a technique has been practiced does not matter, but which technique is better in a given situation. Also, you still don't seem to understand that these techniques were taught to me, and over the last 14 years I've made the techniques my own by changing their applications to suit my needs without loosing the effectiveness of the original techniques. So in a way, you are ridiculing the exact practice that has made the martial arts so great. Refer to my statement "The most important trait for a martial artist to have if he is to "master" an art is the ability to think abstractly." Now look at a quote from Grand Master Yip Chun's book "Wing Chun" where he quotes his father Grand Master Yip Man: "The human being should use Kung Fu, it should never be that Kung Fu uses the human being." "...the meaning being that you must apply your Kung Fu freely, flexibly and never restrict the area in which you use a single technique." (quoted from the book "Wing Chun" by Yip Chun)

Gotta love this. I'm just gaining my black belt in taekwondo very soon, and agree that how an individual does something is what makes it art. individualizing is massively important! heck, most of my favorite takedowns stated with me going "hey, that'd hurt a lot", applying it to a takedown, and then testing it with my instructor. Martial arts are beautiful because of their variance yet simultaneously their commonness.

ok i see, but i was wondering if he learned any actual form at all, not just randomly throwing knives in his backyard and telling others about it

Seriously? Read the Instructable again, the whole thing stresses repeating the same movements so they may become second nature. In practicing forms you repeat the same series of movements in sequence to develop what's referred to as neuromuscular memory, basically changing your natural reaction to what you've practiced. This is exactly what I was referring to throughout my Instructable.

... you're not getting my point...

okto (author)AnarchistAsian2009-05-19

Your point is bad. I believe the author gets your point, he simply does not agree because it is poorly thought out and shows very little understanding of martial arts or practiced action in general. If the desired goal is accomplished fully and consistently, the way cannot be wrong. The reason to learn a skill is not to parrot others, but to accomplish something. You don't practice to get good at practicing, you practice to get good at -doing-. Re-read Herr Dunkelheit's story about the master and the student, it contains a good lesson.

die_dunkelheit (author)okto2009-06-27

okto, you've elegantly summed up exactly what I was trying to say. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. die Dunkelheit

Hell of a response. Bravo!

lol master?

yeah, like... someone who has mastered it...

the "wow shammy" (author)2009-07-01

if you do karate its a cat stance

I'm almost certain that a leaf thrower is NOT a cat stance, reguardless of martial arts.

origamic12 (author)Thundertydus2011-09-01

You're right. this stance is not like the cat stance, which is also used in tae kwan do, or even a back stance. Unless of course, it is poorly done. A proper cat stance requires the practiconer to shift most of their weight onto their back leg, and their hip pulled back with their front foot barely touching the ground. as for the "L" stance, ive never heard of it. But different schools may use different names for their stances.

It's a cat stance. however, angle of back foot is usually a 90 on most cat stances, at least the one I've been taught in Tiger Rock discipline.

If you do taikwondo its an 'L' Stance

HannesN (author)2015-03-12

holy crap, you going to seriously injure yourself or someone else if you hold the knife like you are in the second photo!

JonathanM8 (author)2014-12-31

Where can you buy throwing knives

Londonbrig0 (author)2010-03-26

If you have a very sharp knife how do you make sure not to cut your hand when using the blade grip?

lperkins (author)Londonbrig02014-08-01

Don't let the knife slide through your hand (I think that's what he means with the "handshake" bit.) You can hold even a razor blade fairly tightly and not get cut, but as soon as it slides sideways even a little it will slice you. The key is to go instantly from holding it to not holding it with as little time in between as possible. (This will also prevent your fingers from catching on the handle when throwing that way, so it's a good thing regardless.)

That's the importance of the "Hand Shake". If your hand is open as to offer or accept a hand shake you should be okay.
Also, really really sharp edges are not so important as really really sharp points. In other words, the edges on each side of a leaf thrower (where you grip it) don't need to be sharp. The point and the edge just forward of the widest part of the blade (see image) should be sharp because this is the area of the blade that actually makes the hole during penetration.

santa_911 (author)2010-02-15

any tips for kitchen knives? lol

picklepie159 (author)santa_9112010-02-15

kitchen knives are a big no no.
get some nice thick knives to throw. Kitchen knives are thin flopping fish cutting instruments. The give off a nice TWANG when they hit the targer and the wobble a lot, but if the point bounces off, your mom will soon be able to recognize the dreaded " I've been used for throwing" bends in the knife

the CRKT m16??? are you guys crazy??? it's that 40 dollar folding knife that I trailed after for so long and didn't get. If folders are thrown, they'll most likely break.

jcampbell (author)picklepie1592012-12-28

I bet if you went through a thrift store, you could find at least a few kitchen knives that are well-balanced. And they're cheap.

Actually you can use good quality heavy kitchen knives, you just need to practice a bit more. I've been throwing knives since I was 4 or 5, my father was an expert knife thrower ( he taught me ) and just as good with a whip.

In fact you can also through forks, spoons, spanners and even hammers, they just take a hell of a lot of practice to get the technique right . With spoons you'll need to sharpen the edge of the bowl (file,grinder etc). Spanners and hammers are generally used as bludgeoning instruments when thrown ( ie hit the target with the F'n heavy end hard ). Throwing axes are good too ( my uncles particular party specialty ).

I learn't to throw forks and spoons basically through laziness and curiosity. At one stage I only had 8 or 9 knives and 5-6 bo shurikin ( throwing spikes ) and got sick of walking back and forth to the target ( 6ft x 3ft box ). Initially I thought what the heck a pen is basically a spike that writes I'll give them a go. The cheapies aren't much chop ( no weight to 'em ) but the heavy metal cased ones can be thrown ( use a dartboard so they stick ) but don't expect to be writing much with them afterwards.

Once I ran out of pens I thought oh well forks are sharp too, I'll give them a go. Working out the balance ( round where the bend in the is normally ) and getting the technique took a while but I got there. After I ran out of forks I thought
gee a spoon is basically a blunt fork without slots ( think spork ) out came the file and the rest is history.

Ps if you do the spoon thing make sure you keep them separate to your regular cutlery after sharpening their edges. Otherwise having a "bloody good feed" will be a literal experience and messy.

macpower (author)2012-11-19

I've thrown a LOT of knives and I can attest to one thing - practice with one item from one distance and you can probably get good at hitting a target. I know, I've done it, but when it comes to a life-or-death, self-defense situation, there's really only one thing to remember about knife throwing: everybody ducks! : )

whisp3r3r (author)2012-06-16

i'm a knife enthusiast, too... i don't know how to throw a knife but i'm sure as hell gonna try using your tutorial... it's a great thing you've repeated so many times about practicing like a robot... it IS a shitload of practice! thanks for the tut... really cool

TuneAFish (author)2011-09-12

I'm pretty sure that's just a standard left-foot forward stance.... But whatever :D

spylock (author)2011-07-29

Your last sentance is wise advise for anything one becomes frustrated with.

jackojack12 (author)2011-07-25

This is cool, gonna practise tommorow

hossweightlifter (author)2010-07-09

i went to a used gun place got 10 sweet throwing knives for $5 can hit a rabbit from 20 yds away

Using these techniques? 20 yards is a good deal, how hard are they hitting?

Enough to kill but i miss 1/2 of the time or my throws are not in the right area so they hop away. But when i hit them they die in 2-5 sec. I have been practicing for awhile and learned to throw them a little bit different.

freerunnin1 (author)2011-02-02

my mate has those exact leaf bladed throwing knives :P they go straight through an inch of wood if thrown hard enough :/

pandaboy292 (author)2010-12-23

ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm in the pick a throwing KNIFE you have a picture of a bo shurikin, or "throwing spike" not a knife. but the throwing is the same almost if you do the no spin and brush throw.

theexpert (author)2010-11-19

what if you left handed

mettaurlover (author)2010-11-10

I think that the weighted ones are for mostly useful for getting used to different knives and their unique balances.

knexlegowizard101 (author)2010-09-03

26 feet

knexlegowizard101 (author)2010-09-03

ried this with a steak knife i`ve made and i stuck in to a tree (i amied at a treget in front of the tree) but never mind that i was feet awway and sunk to the handle and it was a hard throw

daninja (author)2009-02-15

hey, i have that knife!

l96470fps (author)daninja2009-03-08

please could you tell me what knife it is , its awsome!

daninja (author)l96470fps2009-03-16

it's a Boy Scout knife... I dont kow ere you get it. I found it on the ground at camp cedars.

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