In a previous article, we discussed how to utilize throwing knives as a beginner. While being able to handle throwing knives for self-defense is an interesting skill to possess, doing so can only be considered useful if you are extremely adept at it. And to become even reasonably adept at throwing knives, it takes at least four things: a good set of knives, coupled with practice, practice and more practice.
Since we’ve already discussed the handling part, this time we go in-depth on five qualities you should look for in a set of throwing knives.
1. Size Matters
When it comes to throwing knives, bigger is actually better, as smaller knives lack the weight to confer enough momentum and stick to the target. For safety reasons, don’t choose any throwing knife smaller than 10 inches in length. Some pro knife-throwers even use throwers as large as 13 inches. The reason for avoiding smaller throwers is that their lack of mass and momentum make them less likely to stick to the target, thus giving them a tendency to ricochet off the target and hit you or any object nearby. If you have small hands, practice with throwing knives at least 10 inches in length. Longer ones are also easier to grip, and if they’re longer, they’ll be slower to spin when thrown and more likely to hit the target horizontally.
2. Weight is Important
A good throwing knife should have some heft to it, as lighter throwers are less likely to penetrate and stick to the target. To determine a good weight, keep in mind the ratio that knife-throwing legend Harry K. McEvoy used as a guide: for every inch in the length of your thrower, it should have 1 to 1¼ ounces in weight.
So for a 13-inch thrower, it would have to weigh 13 to 16.25 ounces, depending on what you’re more comfortable using. A 10-inch throwing knife (suited for small hands) should therefore weigh between 10 to 10.25 ounces.
3. The Point is the Point
Your set of throwing knives only need to have a sharp point. The “point” of this is that the other parts of the blade should actually be dull so you simply don’t cut yourself as you hold and throw. It doesn’t matter what grip you use, or whether you choose a blade-heavy, handle-heavy or balanced set of throwers; a successful throw will have only the point of the thrower land and cause it to stick to the target.
Some competitive pro throwers even grind down the point slightly, since it’s not necessary that the point be razor-sharp, just sharp enough to penetrate the target at competitions.
As you sift through the hundreds of different throwing knives on the market, you’ll come across a lot of designs. The trick is to K.I.S.S: keep it short and simple. You may find some throwers that have odd shapes or extraneous touches like strange protrusions – avoid these throwers as anything that’s shaped more than a simple leaf or triangular-shaped throwing knife could interfere with your grip, and with the knives’ aerodynamics.
Similarly, avoid designs that have paracord or other types of cordage wrapped around their handles. It may seem like a nice touch to have emergency cord on your throwing knives, but these unravel eventually and likely at a time when you don’t want them to come apart. Paracord-wrapped throwers don’t always ensure a better grip over bare throwers.
5. Six is the Magic Number
It’s recommended that you start off with a set of throwing knives, and not just one or two. Using a set of 6 isn’t necessarily to have plenty of “backups” if you lose a couple, but it’s so you don’t lose the “momentum” of making successful throws. Doing one or two throws then having to walk to the target to retrieve just one or two knives, then returning to the right throwing distance is not only tedious but fails to train your muscle memory to consistently make good throws. By throwing six at a time, it’s easier to see if you’re too far or too close to your target, and then quickly adjust; you can also practice rapid-throwing as you improve. If you can’t have a set of six, then then have a set of at least three throwing knives.
A Word on Cost
As an aspiring knife-thrower you may ask, “how much should I spend on my throwing knives for training?” As a wise man named John Ruskin once said,
“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.”
In simpler terms, don’t scrimp on your throwing knives, but don’t break the bank on them either. Buy the most and best throwing knives you can afford, though if you can make or know someone who can make custom throwers, there’s no reason not to go down this route.
Being able to hit a target with the right speed, accuracy and force is a good skill to have, but shouldn’t be relied upon during a fight, self-defense or SHTF scenario. Still, if you’re able to invest enough time to practice, knife-throwing could become a skill that’s part of your “survival bag of tricks” – and a deadly one at that. If you practice long enough, you may even be able to turn other everyday items into deadly, throwable weapons – including butter knives.
Pick a set of throwing knives, one that you’re most comfortable with in terms of length, weight, simplicity of design and cost and practice away. If you don’t become an expert knife-thrower, you can at least enjoy it as a hobby – as long as you play it safe.