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
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
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
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
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
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
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".
Step 7: REPEAT LIKE a ROBOT
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
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.