Learn Business Card Throwing




About: A Northern Ireland based maker with a propensity to cause trouble and freshly constructed family.
This is a guide from scratch on throwing business cards, I'm no magic ninja yet but you'd be surprised how quickly you can learn this. 

It's worth noting that I started with a few random sites and built from there.

So I work PR for a club, trust me 4-6 hour shifts of forcing yourself to socialise with passers by can get boring and will turn you in to a sociopath on a miserable day, however our free passes are the size of business cards. 

So I have an unlimited supply of cards, learning to throw them accurately would make work more fun, benefit me, benefit the club and look awesome. 

This can only go well.



Step 1: You'll Need

There's not much you'll need but getting started necessitates a few things:

 - a decent supply of uniform business cards, they do get wrecked and until you get better consistency is needed in your cards
 - a pretty decent chunk of free time, to get firing cards in a straight line is something you can do overnight, however you forget fast
 - a target of some sort, a piece of soft cardboard is good, even card can chip eggshell paint and makes a fair racket on drywall and thin walls
 - reasonable wrist strength and loose wrists

If you spend all day typing and mousing this is rather good for your wrist, I haven't tried throwing with my left hand yet since my ambidextry is learned and any new skill takes ages to master compared...

Step 2: Got Your Cards? How Do You Hold Them?

There are a fair few ways you can throw a card in terms of grip. 

However it is not a frisbee, the physics here are entirely different, so throwing them like that never works. 

These grips appear to be gleaned from the card throwing world, though similar the two do behave different, though a seasoned thrower of either could adapt easily...

Ricky Jay method - Push the corner of the card in to your finger tip, hold it in a comfy spot between your thumb and second finger, the third and fourth out of the way

Hermann method - Similar to the above method, except the finger tip rests on the outer corner of the card, not the inner one

Thurston method - Card goes between your index and middle fingers, thumb on top and the rest in line as well. 

 The pictures below are in the order of the methods and each is annotated. As a note they're all left handed, the camera is hopeless for holding lefty...

Step 3: Wrist, Not Arm

You might go back to step two a couple of times figuring out which way of holding it you like best, though once you get the wrist action all of them make sense, which works best is personal though. 

Your arm isn't going to do the throwing, your wrist introduces the spin and the power.

Best sit down, big stack of cards and inside, this first bit takes a while, I noticed the same thing with zippo tricks until you get it right a couple of times in a row it doesn't happen, stay calm though finesse is more important than power here. 

So hold your arm with the elbow at around 90 degrees, and a little in front of you it's a reasonably comfy position. 

With your chosen grip, bend your wrist in as far as it goes without straining at all, if it's strained when you flick it the card will likely flop about or at best go in a random direction, it should be comfortable to hold it there for a while. 

Flick your wrist round quickly but in a smooth motion, not a hard jerk and release the card towards the end of the swing, if you find you keep releasing it at random times, follow through with your fingers to help with when to let it go... 

Now, repeat.  

You'll be doing this for a while, until you get the hang of it... Once you choose a comfy grip you'll find that right away about a quarter of throws fly well straight away. 

Keep working on your throw, consistency is the key to advancement here, you can't aim without a baseline... 

Step 4: Aiming - Side to Side

Learning to throw your cards left and right is relatively simple...  

You can start with a reasonably normal sized room, aim at separate sections, maybe about a foot apart, you're looking to make small piles of cards at the bottom. Face one direction the whole time and start with small angles, building up to each corner. 

Learn the sides in an alternate fashion, that way you'll be able to do left/right as well as each other immediately, avoiding Zoolander references as you go... 

As you get better try to find a bigger space and get good at sending cards where you want them, once you don't really have to think about it, move on... 

Step 5: Aiming Up and Down

This gets trickier... 

Turning your wrist is part of it, the other bit is the fingers releasing the card. 

The angle of your wrist decides the angle the card flies away, turn upwards for up, down for down, however it's really small movements, start with small angles and learn to control it finely. You'll learn that there are limits to the angles a card can fly at to start with, usually this is due to the throw, it's the same issue as frisbees... 

The other deciding factor are your fingers on release, if they're unevenly extended it'll impart a different, curving angle up or down. The best way to master this is paying attention to the feeling of the card leaving, it's something that is really tricky to consciously adjust, more learned intuitively.

For the actual learning the best way to do it is a big room and things of various heights. 

A stepladder would be perfect, learn to throw the same way as before, starting with between two rungs in the middle and using them as compartments, start 10 feet away and slowly increase the distance until you can get the card through each one easily.

As a challenge try hitting the rungs themselves. 

Bookshelves also make good targets for this.  

Step 6: Arms?

Once you can throw them well you can start throwing them from different positions, it should come relatively naturally but can give a lot more range of freedom to your throws. 

Anywhere your arm is comfortable is a potential throwing position, as long as you're not really stretched out, since it messes with the amount your wrist moves easily... 

You can also impart some interesting curves and arcs to throws by moving your arms, but it's hard to tell what until you do it, if people gave me feedback on this it'd be great, I have damaged bones in my wrist and both elbows have been broken before so I can't tell exactly. 

Step 7: Throwing Outside...

Wind is the obvious thing that comes to mind here... 

If you throw into the wind it'll often flip up after a few feet, with the wind behind you they tend to shoot off pretty unpredictably but very fast, which can be pretty impressive... 

Perpendicular to the wind tends to have weird effects, depending on gusts etc. sometimes the card will fly on virtually unhindered and sometimes it'll just crash completely... 

Rain is weird, light misty rain wont affect the card over around 30 feet, heavy rain can slap it down really quickly... 

Snow is awesome, the card usually flies along pretty beautifully through the flakes and it looks real purdy...

Step 8: In Summation

This is the sort of hobby/skill/trick that you either learn in a languid and calm fashion while bored or something you get a bit obsessed with... 

I love learning a new skill for fun, even if it's not a lifechanging skill it can be really rewarding, I also know that a lot of people would love to learn this one, not to the same extent as, say business card ninja but as something silly and fun. 

Still I'll leave you with his amazing video, even though it was an ad for a camera... You'll see he uses a completely different technique to anything here, if I master it of course I'll post an instructable on it. 



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    44 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Check out this video that I found of a very easy card shooter build : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4B_dIVdfJh8


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    That's uh, pretty much exactly as described here, 'cept the drawings right handed, in the pictures they're all left handed as my SLR can't be operated with a left hand...


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I've been practicing with a gift card, and I can get some real power behind it. I just need to work on aim.

    Plo Koon

    8 years ago on Introduction

    I love it! I'm throwing a playing card and using a pop can as a target. A variation of Thurston works best for me.

    3 replies

    Sweet, cans are great targets however check out the cards in to cups video, wineglasses make the most satisfying noise...

    Cool, I just love the noise they make... Though I have been becoming a nuisance now, everything is a target...


    8 years ago on Introduction

    k so i took some tin snips and cut out a peaice of thin tin from square Ducting. the size of a hockey card. its kinda heavy for a card to throw but once you get the hang of i you can throw pretty far and stick it into walls and targets.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    It took me 3 months to learn how to throw playing cards...

    3 years later, halfway to world record (215? or so feet, im at 125)


    1 reply

    8 years ago on Introduction

    this is something i could really get into, cant find good thick cards though, mine always bend and split, this is going in my favs for sure =D

    1 reply

    The majority of business cards people hand you are fine for it, you can learn to throw playing cards as well using these techniques... Glad you like the instructable, thanks.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    how much spin do you need to put on it because it seems the only way to get it going straight is to put a lot of spin on it but then for me it always curves to the side or makes it fly vertically

    2 replies

    How are you holding the card? The natural spin from the card pivoting on your fingers as it leaves, if you pull the finger back as it leaves your grip it'll spun harder and arc...

    i throw the Herman method usually but sometimes differently, but i think my problem is i use more of the arm than my wrist