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2009 Rocky Mountain Knife and Tomahawk Competition

2009 Rocky Mountain Knife and Tomahawk Throwing Competition

I was able to attend my first real throwing knife competition…as a spectator…this past weekend. The Rocky Mountain Knife and Tomahawk Competition was held in Creede, Colorado on June 27-28, 2009. It was just a short five-and-a-half hour drive through some of the most beautiful Colorado scenery I’ve seen in a long time.

2009 Rocky Mountain Knife and Tomahawk Throwing Competition
2009 Rocky Mountain Knife and Tomahawk Throwing Competition

(There is a gallery of photos at the bottom of this post.)

Even though I didn’t get to compete since I did not get a chance to put together a pre-1840 outfit I enjoyed watching the events and meeting most of the competitors. I took some video and some pictures which you can see at the bottom of this post.

I didn’t quite get everyone’s name down accurately nor do I remember every game or hear every score. So if you’re reading this and you spot a mistake I would really appreciate it if you send me an email and let me know so I can fix it.

Overall there was a total of eleven events, or games. They did six games on Saturday and four on Sunday plus one bonus round since it was a pretty day and it was early.


The awards came out like this:

There was only one amateur (too bad I didn’t have the clothes) so he got the award: Jerry

Women’s Hawk:
1st : Erica Morlock
2nd: Patsy Weems
3rd: Katie Goldsmith

Women’s Knife:
1st: Mary Neal
2nd: Erica Morlock
3rd: Katie Goldsmith

Men’s Hawk:
1st: Bob “Old Dog” Pyle
2nd: John Goldsmith
3rd: Dan Overpeck

Men’s Knife
1st: Bob “Old Dog” Pyle
2nd: Roy “Moses” Neal
3rd: Jody

Top Women’s: Erica Moloff

Top Men’s: Bob “Old Dog” Pyle

Top Aggregate Scores:
180 – Bob “Old Dog” Pyle
157 – John Goldsmith
156 – Roy “Moses” Neal
155 – Chuck “Walking Eagle” Weems
154 – “Red Bear”
145 – Jody
130 – Dan Overpeck
119 – Mike “IronPost” Kolisch
104 – Erica Molock
94 – Patsy Weems
89 – Katie Goldsmith
84 – Ken Boboy
82 – Mary Neal
80 – Earl Wilson

If you’re like me and you’ve never watched a mountain main or rendezvous style knife and tomahawk throwing competition before there was a lot to learn. I bothered everyone there with tons of questions and they were all very nice and patiently answered everything I asked.

The Target

In the mountain man style of throwing they use a large log round mounted on a tripod as you can see in the pictures. At Creede, in the Basham city park there were large piles of dirt with huge boulders on them. It is a mining town in the Rockies and it’s nothing for them to toss boulders around where they want them. So behind the targets they leaned some 4’x8′ sheets of plywood so when you miss you don’t have to walk very far to pick up your knife or hawk from off of the ground.

The log rounds were mounted to the tripod frame with lag bolts from behind. I’ve seen other pictures where they put a piece of wood across the front two legs and rested the log round on top of that. The log round is mounted about chest high. I don’t think there is any particular regulation height or size of round.

For a couple of the games they also have a half-log-round on the ground that you throw at. I guess it’s like going after a rabbit.

Competitors throw from the distance they are comfortable with as long as it is more than 10 feet from the target. Most of the time they throw their knife or hawk one spin. A few of the games require a spin-and-a-half. In the video you can see them walking off their distance from the target and drawing a line in the dirt with their toe or dropping their knife or hawk on the ground to mark their place for their throws.

Targets and Scoring

The target you typically throw at on a mountain man competition is a playing card. At this competition they were held on to the log round with a wooden golf tee. Many a tee was split in half! Other items they used for targets were index cards, rubber bands (to be avoided) and uncooked spaghetti (try to chop it in half). You can read more about these below when I describe the games.

In most of the games you get 1 point if you stick your knife or hawk anywhere on the log round. You get 2 points if your knife or hawk cuts the card. You get 3 points if the blade of your knife or hawk penetrates the card in the center without cutting the edge.

If you miss the target or your knife sticks but then falls out and lands on the ground you get 0 points. Interestingly, if it starts to fall out and you can run up and catch it before it hits the ground you get the score for where it hit on the target. I guess that’s kind of up to the judge!


The competition was made up of ten separate rounds or games plus they had a bonus round for a total of eleven events in this particular competition. The games at any given competition are going to depend on who sets up the competition and what they want to do.

Typically you make ten throws during each round or game. Five with your knife and five with your hawk.

I don’t remember all eleven of the games they played but here are the details as I understand them of some of them.

One Card – You mount one playing card in the center of the log round and you try to hit it. 1 point for sticking in the log, 2 points for cutting the card and three points for center-cutting the card.

Clock – Five playing cards are placed on the log round. One at 12, 3, 6, 9 and one in the center. You have to hit the cards in order: 12, 3, 6, 9, center and if you hit a card out of order it does not count.

Rubber Bands – This probably has a name but I didn’t catch it. You place four golf tees in a large diamond shape on the log round. You connect four rubber-bands to the tees, stretching them out to make a diamond shape. In the middle you place a playing card. If you hit the log round outside of the diamond you get 1 point. If you hit the log round inside the diamond you get 2 points. If you cut the card you get 3 points. If you center-cut the card you get 4 points. If you cut a rubber band you get 0 points.

Climb The Mountain – You place five cards on the log round in an ascending line from the lower left of the target to the upper right. The log rounds were a little small in this competition so they could only put up four cards and then had to put the fifth card on the right, below the others. You have to start at the left and hit each card in order. If you get them out of order you only get 1 point just as if you only hit the log.

Cut the Spaghetti – You put two golf tees spaced one card-width apart in the center of the target. Across these tees you place one uncooked piece of spaghetti. If you just stick the log you get 1 point. If you cut the spaghetti on the left or right of the golf tees you get 2 points. If you cut the spaghetti between the two golf tees you get 3 points.

Across the Rockies – There is nothing on the target when you start. You make your first throw as far to the left on the target as you can. The judge will place a golf tee in the very center of the hole your knife or hawk just left. Then you throw again and try to get as close to your last throw, but just to the right of it as you can. You keep repeating this until you throw to the left of your last throw, you miss, or you run out of target. You get one point for each knife or hawk you stick.

They repeated this game on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, Bob “Old Dog” Pyle got 10, 11 or 12 points on this event (I can’t remember for sure) and on Sunday, “Red Dog” got 10 points. It’s harder than it sounds.

Lots of Paper – That’s not the official name but I didn’t catch what it was. You place a large note card in the center of the target. Then just out from that you place a couple of regular note cards. Then some playing cards and then out at the very outer edge of the log round you place half-cards. When you hit one of the targets it is removed from the log round before your next throw. (This may be wrong…) You get 0 points for hitting nothing. You get 1 point for hitting the large note card, 2 points for the regular note card, 3 points for a whole playing card and 4 points for a half-note card.

I definitely haven’t included some of the other games. But the bonus round was…

Wipe The Smile Off Of That Face – You place two paper plates on the top half of the log round like eyes. Then you place five cards along the bottom edge of the target like a smile. You throw at the cards and have to hit them from left-to-right in order. If you hit the paper plates you get 0 points. 1 point for just hitting the wood of the target, two points for cutting the right card and 3 points for center cutting the right card. The paper plates are psychological and a lot of folks tend to hit them. They can be hard to miss.

4 thoughts on “2009 Rocky Mountain Knife and Tomahawk Competition

  1. Enjoyed the pictures. Whish I could have been there.

    Hope to see all in Belen in sept.

  2. Great video and pictures!! We really appreciate your blog and all of the information you provided from Creede. That throw will only get bigger and better. Be sure and check out our website for teh 2009 SWNTKC down in Belen, NM in September. We want to see all of you throwers out in force!! Keep up the good work and let me know how we can help!

    BTW…..who the heck posted all the pictures and video!!!!

  3. I posted all of these pictures and video! ::grin::

  4. I see them pilgrims in Colorado appear to be fresh from flatland territory, what with them tin horses hitched up in the background.
    We ran a rondezvouz in western Washington at the Tacoma Sportsman Club for 5 years, and our hawk’n’knife was done up as a
    woods walk. None of that pilgrim stand-in one place hooey-you strode along through the shrubbery and suddenly a target was there, or maybe over yonder, or maybe peeking out twixt two trees. To preserve the forest, we used rounds cut from windfall-one round might be fir, another might be alder or cherry hardwoods; some might be fresh, others weathered and hard. We put rounds at all different heights, distances and angles. No pacing off for distance allowed, you were expected to know how to judge distances and know how to stick ’em at different angles. Some of the targets slid down ropes, some swayed back and forth, and you’d better know how to throw with your weak hand, underhand, both hands at the same time (which meant borrowing somebody’s knife and hawk) or even throwing straddling a log “horse”. Everybody’s favorite was while sitting in an “outhouse” you had to kick open the door and throw everything you had at the bear that had come to
    investigate all the tooting and pooting-the winners figured out to
    throw the catalog and even the seat. Maybe those flatlanders out
    there in Colorado can figure out something better that single rounds lag-bolted to plywood panels. well, the coffee’s gone, the
    fire burns low, time to mosey. Har’s hoping ya keep yore hair and
    find them shining times

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