Today’s article is about knife throwing techniques, but from a survival perspective. To tell you the truth, I find this topic to be very interesting and unique, i.e.

I look forward to reading your comments.

Knife throwing is an ancient technique, and it has been around for centuries. It’s a known fact that American soldiers in the Civil War practiced this “sport” in camp to kill time so to speak. Since then, the technique survived as an art form, as a sport or for entertainment purposes.

The question is, is it worth acquiring knife throwing skills from a survivalist’s perspective? I really don’t know the “correct” answer, but to tell you the truth, watching a skilled knife thrower doing his thing is absolutely awesome. Check out this video and you’ll understand what I am talking about.

video first seen on Adam Celadin

Obviously, an expert like Adam makes knife throwing to look like a child’s play, yet being able to throw a knife accurately will take countless hours of training.

Which begs the question: why would you spend hours and hours throwing knives in the first place? Well, to begin with, in certain scenarios, knife throwing would make  for a desperate (as in last-resort) self defense tactic.

Also, in an outdoors survival scenario, if there’s nothing else available or you’re really a “natural” knife thrower, you could hunt small and big game alike, discreetly and silently. Or, who knows, maybe you just regard throwing knives as a bad ass skill to master, which is completely true.

Given the “general purpose” of survivopedia.com, we will approach knife throwing from a survival perspective, i.e. survival hunting, provided such thing is even possible (just kidding). To begin with, not all knives are created equal, and the same goes for throwing knives. A good throwing knife should meet certain requirements, such as:

-is must be at least twelve inches long; longer knives are excellent for beginners, as they spin slower, so you can work at improving your technique more easily; shorter knives will spin faster;

-there’s no need for fancy/cool looking handles nor grips (they’ll get damaged quickly); a dedicated throwing knife doesn’t have a handle actually, as it screws up its center of balance

-the knife must have rounded corners, dull edges (very important, so you don’t get hurt while throwing it) and a sharp point (like, duh!)

-the tip of the knife must be thick enough to survive hundreds of impacts without bending

-don’t choose low end (as in cheap) knives, as they’re built using cheap (as in low quality) metals, that will crack or snap in half sooner or later, not to mention they’ll dent easily

-go for a balanced knife, as it will allow you to practice throwing from both ends

-the knife should weight at least ten-twelve ounces

With all these things considered, it seems obvious that you can DIY your throwing knife, provided you’re in a SHTF situation and you’ve lost all your gear.

Here’s an idea

video first seen on Survival Skills Primitive

but you can do your own research afterwards. Moving on with our story,  when it comes to knife throwing, there are several methods to contemplate upon: you can throw underhand, overhand, you can throw a knife gripping the handle (provided you don’t have a specialized knife) or you can throw gripping the blade.

The underhand method is used for close distances, as the knife will follow a straight trajectory to the target and will not spin. For distances from up to ten yards, you must throw overhand. The thing about knife throwing is that it’s only suitable for relatively close range activity, and getting within ten yards of a wild animal is pretty difficult when it comes to survival hunting.

Here’s a video depicting several knife throwing methods, but they all employ very close distances to the target, in the 2-3 yards range at most.

video first seen on Tim Rosanelli

However, you can take a look and learn the basics anyway. Be advised, the comments are hilarious.

Now, with the basics taken care of, here’s another video, for “advanced knife throwers”, featuring world champion Adam Celadin in a no spin knife throwing tutorial.

video first seen on Adam Celadin

Now, as per why one would learn such an ancient technique, the simple answer is: you never know. In a survival situation, the oddest things can happen. I know what you’re thinking: but Chris, is it possible to hunt by throwing knives? To tell you the truth, I don’t really know.

What I know for sure is that when it comes to survival, stranger things happened than hunting with knives. And I also know that if you’ve mastered your knife throwing skills, you can definitely hunt  game, like turkey, rabbits, wild pigs or anything that’s approachable within ten yards or so.

However, if you ask me, you’d end up better with using a spear (a long straight stick with your knife fixed atop of it). But then again, in a survival situation, all bets are off, so you can give knife throwing a shot anyway.

The thing is, even if you’re  hunting with a bow or a spear, which is more common, in a lot of situations you’ll find yourself wounding the animal (let’s say deer) and you’ll have to follow the blood trail to find the wounded/dying deer, so the same theory should apply to hunting by throwing knives.

To hunt small game like birds and rabbits, you’ll require a light throwing knife, which can be thrown with enough speed to intercept your target. Obviously, it’s fairly easy losing knives while doing this, as they tend to bury themselves under the leaves/turf or whatever.

At least in theory, a good size and weight/well sharpened knife could be used realistically in taking a deer down. Suppose you get close enough, within 35 feet or so, and you go for a shoulder hit, you throw and you manage to lodge the blade in.

What then? Well, the deer will be definitely slowed down and it will quickly lose enough blood to allow you to get close and give it the coup de grace. To achieve that, it would require mad skills of knife throwing and stalking alike. The thing is, both turkey and deer are alert game, and stalking prey is a lost art nowadays.

Always remember: the proper way to hunt big game like deer or wild boar via knife throwing is from a stand overlooking a game trail. Using this trick, the shoulder movement would go undetected by the animal, and  due to short range, you would be getting one spin.

When it comes to small game, the trick is to throw hard and fast, so even if you hit the target with the blunt end or side hits, the game will get some damage anyway, getting stunned and allowing you to get in a 2nd shot. It would be advisable to carry at least two throwing knives when hunting, plus a dedicated blade for the coup de grace/self defense if that big bad turkey turns on you.

Bottom line, even if it may sound difficult, I would advise you to learn it and use it regardless, and I am talking about knife throwing, obviously. I’ve once seen a picture with a guy from Florida who killed  a 275 lbs wild boar by throwing a knife at 75 feet. However, to do that, you’d have to be a pretty God damn’ good knife thrower.

Or the luckiest guy in the world, take your pick.

I hope the article helped. If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below.

Written by

Chris Black is a born and bred survivalist. He used to work as a contractor for an intelligence service but now he is retired and living off the grid, as humanly possible. An internet addict and a gun enthusiast, a libertarian with a soft spot for the bill of rights and the Constitution, a free market idealist, he doesn't seem very well adjusted for the modern world. You can send Chris a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com.

Latest comments
  • I don’t recommend throwing a completely good knife for self defense. But learning to throw shuriken is a very useful skill. They are easy to make and the technique is basically the same. Celadin shows the traditional Japanese grip in his video and that was the way I learned. Shuriken are easily concealed, and although not designed to kill, they can provide distraction and discouragement to an attacker. That little extra time could allow your escape or an advantage to take out an opponent. It’s also a lot ofun to practice. Go for it

  • Hey, Chris – Some Interesting Notes . . . I have some “Druthers” that I will share: 1.) Use Hardened (Tempered) Tool Steel for your throwing knives – I make mine from 12″ Nicholson mill files and end up with a 10 inch (approx) X 15 oz. blade. 2.) Tip (point) is oil-quench hardened to ~Rc60 for about 1/2 inch or so. 3.) Sanded Very Smooth (v/ 16) and a Razor sharp edge for about 3-4 inches.from point; 4.) Coat All Surfaces (except edge) with black oxide, “Parkerized”, or “Rust-Mort” for a DULL black or Dark Grey finish; and 5.) Do your practising at about 7 to 9 yards into a soft wood log end. Thats it.

  • I’ve never tried harpooning game with a knife and I hope I never have to try! At 61 years of age I don’t have much of a pitching arm anymore. But when I was 11 years old I nailed a blackbird sitting on a fence, with a rock. I was about 30′ away. I actually felt pretty bad about it and I felt even worse when my dad made me have it for dinner!….LOL That was the rule in our household. Any critters that I shot I had to eat…so I was very selective about what I shot! I still am these days. With the exception of coyotes. When I encounter those mangy dogs on my ranch, they get plugged and left for the crows, raccoons, eagles and an occasional lion.

  • Throwing knives is Hollywood tactics. Hunting by throwing knives is absurd. Almost as absurd as throwing knives for self defense. It would be too easy to lose a knife when missing your target(notice I said WHEN you miss) or damaging the blade. I would rather hunt with a slingshot than throwing knives. It could be a fun and challenging hobby but it’s real world uses are just about zero.

    • I would rather Have it and Not Need it – Than Need It and Not Have It ! !

      • Sure then, buy a gun and take the time to learn how to use that. Instead of taking the time to develop a useless skill.

  • Have to say I’d hunt with a slingshot or gun but knife throwing was a fun target exercise when I was younger. I was far better with archery and had a wall of trophies as a teen. For quiet hunting, a bow and arrow would be my choice.

  • I look earned th oh s skill many years ago, just for the fun of it. It is easy to lose a knife, like you say. But in a pinch, it is worth learning, and inexpensive too. The more skills I possess, the better off I am- any place or time in life.

  • Your knife throwing tips and techniques are really awesome. This article is really inspiring!! I was looking forward such type of post. So thanks a lot for sharing it with us.

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