How To Throw Knives To Hit The Bullseye

By Will Brendza | Last Updated: April 18, 2017

How To Throw KnivesWatching a skilled knife thrower in action is an incredible thing to behold.

But if you’ve never tried it yourself, you may not realize “the experts make it look easy”.

Accurately throwing knives takes a lot of practice (and some guidance doesn’t hurt either).

But first, why would you want to throw a knife in the first place?

Well, perhaps you want to know the skill as a “last resort” self-defense tactic.

Maybe you’d like to hunt small game silently and discreetly.

Or perhaps you dream of joining a circus to dazzle crowds with your bladed accuracy.

Or maybe you just think throwing knives is badass.

Which it is indeed!

Regardless of why you want to throw a knife, learning the skill takes guidance. So this article will serve as detailed instruction on how to throw knives.

But before we dive in,  I want to warn you – there’s some serious controversy surrounding the usefulness of this skill for self-defense and survival.

Many believe if you enter a fight with a knife, you should NEVER throw away your weapon. Not only are you effectively disarming yourself, but unless you make the perfect throw, you’ll make your assailant angrier (and now you have no weapon).

You also probably just armed your assailant with the weapon you just threw at them…

It’s easy to see the logic there, and I agree with it. But like I said: I’ve seen some amazing knife throwers in my day. And it’s frightening to behold how accurately and powerfully some can sling a blade.

So it’s really a matter of skill and experience. Check out this video to see how effective and deadly a knife throw can be.

Sure, you may be a beginner today. But after a few years of practice, when some chump tries to mug you in a dark alley, you’ll have the confidence and ability to cast a knife and end his criminal days.

Just don’t try until you have no doubt about your ability to nail the target.

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A Brief History of Throwing Knives

Throwing knives have been used widely throughout history and across many cultures. It’s an ancient art form.

They’re used for hunting and martial purposes in Japan, Africa, and the Americas. And they are still incorporated into many forms of martial arts today.

In most cases, throwing knives were specially made for throwing. And the warriors who threw them would be armed with another weapon as well.

Today, most expert knife throwers are hobbyists (or secret ninjas). There are knife-throwing clubs and even professional competitions.

Throwing A Knife

Sure you could go into your kitchen, grab a bread knife and start hurling it around the house. But you’re not going to have much success. Instead, to practice correctly, get yourself a set of throwing knives and a safe space outside. That way, you won’t throw toward anyone or anything valuable (i.e., the neighbor’s kids or cars).

In general, there are three types of throwing knives:

  1. Handle Heavy Knives
  2. Blade Heavy Knives
  3. Balanced Knives

How to Hold the Knife

You always want to hold the knife opposite of the heavy end, so the weighted side gets thrown first. So, for example, if you have a heavy handle knife, you would hold the blade – if you have a heavy blade knife, you would hold the handle.

Balanced blades can be thrown from either end and are the preferred knives amongst throwing professionals.

Place your index, middle, and ring fingers on one side of the end you are holding, and your thumb on the other. Hold the knife gently but firmly.

How to Throw Knives

There are many schools of thought on how to throw a knife.

There are many different techniques, and none of them are right or wrong – they’re just different. And some work better than others.

For this article, I will explain a few of the main ways to throw a knife.

The Professional Technique

No matter which way you decide to throw the blade, the first step is always the same: find your “throwing line.” This is the distance from you to your target – usually about five paces. This is where most professionals throw from, and as a beginner, you’ll want to start here too.

Simply take a step forward from where you stand on the throwing line. Keeping the knife horizontal to the target, swing, gently release, and always follow through (just like a good golf swing or baseball pitch).

While this method is perfect for practicing accuracy and getting a good feel for throwing a knife, it does not generate a whole lot of Oomph.

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The Power Knife Throw

To get more power out of your throw, you need a couple of extra steps. Once you have found your throwing line, take another step backward, and one more step at a 45-degree angle.

Stand with your weak shoulder to the target (left shoulder for the right-handed, right shoulder for the left-handed). Place your back foot one step in front of your front foot (almost like you’re mid-stride, with the target to your side).

Wind up and take a big step towards your line with your back foot (the one on your dominant side) and throw that knife really friggin hard.

Once again: keep the knife horizontal to the target throughout the throw, and gently let it go and follow through. The extra step lets you pitch that knife like a baseball, with all your might.

Successfully throwing a knife like this generates more than enough force to peg an animal you’re hunting, or to punch a hole in an enemy.

Timing the release is the hardest part of throwing a knife. Knowing when to let go, and how to let go of the blade, so it spins correctly, flies the right way, and sinks where you want it to is a matter of trial and error.

Practicing is the only way to perfect this skill.

The “No Spin” Knife Throw

There is a third way to throw a knife. It is not typical, but it can be effective.

The no-spin throw sounds exactly as it looks: the thrower launches its knife in such a way that it doesn’t rotate on its way to the target.

Start in the same place you would for the Power Throw (described above), and in almost the same stance. But hold the knife with your pointer finger supporting the back edge of the knife.

Step outwards with your dominant leg and throw the knifepoint first towards the target, release gently and follow through. Watch the video for more details on this throw.

Buying Throwing Knives

Now here is where things get tricky. Because the internet is full of throwing knives for sale. And I’m here to tell you, that not all are created equal.

In fact, there is a lot of throwing knives out there that are utter garbage.

This is an important section because the knife makes a difference. It needs to be weighted correctly and made of the right type of steel. For a beginner, this step is an easy one to mess up – because you don’t know what you are looking for in a throwing knife.

But do not worry, that is why this article is here.

SOG Fling 3-Piece set:

SOG throwing knifeThis is a standard set of balanced throwing blades. Their handles are wrapped in nylon cord for grip and weight, just like the old-school throwing knives which were bound with leather or sinew.

The cord offers a special survival bonus, as it can be removed in a survival emergency and repurposed. Each SOG Fling knife is 9.5”, and comes with a ballistic nylon sheath for storage.

Magnum by Boker Ziel 3-piece set:

magnum knife setThese knives are longer throwing knives, at 13.25”. The stainless steel blades look a bit like scalpels. And at 14 ounces they are heavy enough to surgically strike down anything they sink their hefty weight into.

The Magnum blades come with a very nice leather sheath for storage.

Cold Steel Pro Balance Sport:

Cold Steel Balanced KnifeCold Steel is known for making excellent professional-grade throwing knives. And this intermediate Cold Steel Pro Balance Sport thrower is no exception to that.

The blade is expertly balanced and crafted with hard spring tempering. 13.25” long and 11.5 ounces, these professional throwing knives are an incredible bang for your buck.

You get nearly the same quality weapon that the pros use for a margin of the price.

Perfect Point Throwing Knife 3-piece set:

Perfect Point Throwing KnivesAnother high-quality budget throwing knife is The Perfect Point RC-179 Series. It’s a well-balanced knife and allows accurate throws every time.

It’s made from black stainless steel construction and has a laser cut-out at end of the handle that allows a lanyard to be tied to it.

It includes a black nylon sheath for safe transport and each knife measures 8 inches in overall length.

KA-BAR Fighting/Utility Serrated Edge Knife

KA-BAR Military Survival KnifeFirst off, let me be clear – the KA-BAR is NOT designed specifically to be thrown.

However, if you’re into survival (like we are) you may prefer to learn how to throw your survival knife (since we don’t carry throwing knives in our bug out bags).

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If you watched the video “Will It Kill You?” video above, you noticed the Ka-Bar CAN be thrown with success with practice. And when it hits its target it’s a devastating blow.

BONUS! Shuriken and the Art of Shuriken Jutsu

Ninja stars, as they are commonly known, are another throwing knife. I kept them separate from the rest of the throwing knives because they are overtly different than regular western throwing knives (heavy-handled, heavy-bladed, or balanced).

Shuriken were not typically instruments of assassination, as many people believe. Most shuriken (most throwing knives for that matter) cannot be thrown with enough force to stick directly into a person.

Especially if that person is very far away. Instead, martial artists would use them to cut, slice, or otherwise nick their target’s skin. They were used as distractions, and nuisances during fights, and were used to target exposed areas of the body (like the eyes, and hands).

Ninjas were a crafty bunch – they would embed their shuriken into the ground so that enemies would step on them like caltrops.

They would wrap them in a lit fuse and throw them at structures to start fires.

They would wrap them in poisonous cloth, which they lit on fire before throwing, to cover a vast area in toxic smoke.

Heck, they were even used as handheld weapons, for close combat.

Shurikens didn’t have to be perfectly shaped “stars” either – many were made from nails or coins. Shuriken came in many different shapes and sizes. Some were circular with sharpened outer edges. Others were more like pointed-throwing darts (known as Bo Shuriken). They were perhaps the most effectively used throwing knives of all time.

Throwing a shuriken is very similar to throwing a regular throwing knife. You only need to make certain that you hold it so that the blade has no chance of cutting your skin when you release it.

The Japanese martial artists who developed the art of throwing shuriken (Shurikenjutsu) created more ways to throw these deadly weapons than you can imagine: overhead, underarm, sideways, rear ways…

Sometimes in battle, they would whip out a shuriken so quickly and with such stealth, that warriors who got cut by them would think they were being attacked by an invisible swordsman.

The Final Word

Yes, a thrown knife can function as an additional self-defense weapon – if you know how to do it. But it takes lots of practice.

If knife throwing is something that interests you, it’s a great hobby. Much like darts or target shooting, throwing knives is a fun and relaxing way to practice a skill that has some actual, practical self-defense applications.

If you’re more into survival than knife-throwing competitions, you should learn how to throw your survival knife. That way, you won’t weigh down your bug out bag with an unnecessary set of throwing knives.

Will Brendza

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