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How To Throw A Knife Like A Professional

By Harry K. McEvoy

(Designer and Crafter of Tru-Balance Knives — author of “Knife Throwing in the Professional Style” and “Knife Throwing: A Practical Guide.”)

The professional style of throwing is easy to learn. It provides maximum control, proper target penetration, and helps achieve remarkable accuracy once the fundamentals are mastered.

Here is the “professional system” — step by step:

1. To throw a true professional throwing knife such as the Tru-Bal SPORT-PRO, you grasp the handle or blade firmly, keeping the plane of the blade vertical, and lay your thumb along the top edge of the knife. Your thumb then becomes a “pointer” which will greatly increase your throwing accuracy as you practice. (See Figures 1 and 2.)

2. To throw by the handle grip for one complete spin, you first pace off a distance of four or five normal steps so that you are standing about 12 to 14 feet from the target. If you are a right-handed thrower, you step forward one long pace with your left foot only and sink into a half-crouch. From this position you should hurl the knife hard and fast. (See Figure 3.) Release the knife at the end of your swing like it was HOT, to eliminate wrist snap, since the SPORT-PRO is designed and balanced to make one complete spin in about 10 feet from the position where it leaves your hand. (Left-handed throwers can adapt these instructions to their own style of throwing.)

3. To throw a spin and one-half by the blade grip, the technique is exactly the same as for the handle throw. However, an additional four feet or so of throwing space is needed for that extra one-half spin, so step back the required distance and make a test throw by the blade grip. (See Figure 4.)

4. No matter which type of throw you make — one full turn by the handle or one and one-half spins bye the blade — you will probably have to adjust your distance backward or forward until the knife sticks squarely each time. If the knife strikes the target flat with the point up you must step BACKWARD a foot or two. If it hits flat with the point down you must step FORWARD a foot or two. As soon as you determine the exact range for both the handle and blade throws you should mark the spot upon which to stand for each distance thrown. In each case the distance is measured from the position of your back foot to the target. Proper coordination — good timing and rhythm — is also necessary for each successful throw, while true accuracy is developed only by much practice.

5. To throw a double spin by the handle, or two and one-half spins by the blade grip, simply move back an additional three paces from your previous distances. No matter how you hurl the weapon, the knife — to stick properly — must always penetrate the target board with the plane of the blade vertical, and not crossways to the grain of the wood.

Figure 1 The handle grip
Figure 2 The blade grip
Figure 3 Stance for handle throw
Figure 4 Stance for blade throw

PLEASE NOTE: the instructions above also apply to Models 70 and 76.

How To Throw

Here are the simple step-by-step instructions for throwing any Tru-Bal knife that is designed and balanced for throwing by the handle, such as the Bowie-Axe, the Stinger Bowie, or the Mountain Bowie.

1. Take the knife firmly by the handle in the same natural manner in which you would normally grasp a hatchet handle, keeping the plane of the knife vertical and pressing the ball of your thumb against the rivet nearest the hilt.

2. At a distance of four or five paces — approximately fifteen feet from the target — pitch the knife very hard with an overhand throw — (just like you’d pitch a baseball) — keeping the plane of the blade vertical as it leaves your grasp. This is very similar to an overhand baseball pitch, or cracking a bull whip, but without the usual wrist snap, inasmuch as the knife should slip from your hand just before you reach the end of your swing. Continue to “follow through” on the swing, however, since knife throwing experts will agree that the “follow through” is the secret of guiding the knife accurately to the target.

3. If the knife made one complete turn in the air and struck the target squarely, point first, you have already found your proper distance to stand each time for a perfect throw. If your knife hit flat against the target with the point upward it is necessary to step BACKWARD a foot or two. If it hit flat with the point downward, you must step FORWARD a foot or two. If the knife struck the target butt first you must experiment backward or forward until the knife makes one complete spin and strikes squarely, point first. Proper coordination — good timing and rhythm — is necessary for each successful throw, while accuracy is developed only by practice. To throw a double spin by the handle, simply move backwards an additional three paces.


4. With a sharp edged knife such as the Tru-Bal BATTLE BLADE or the Tru-Bal RIFLEMAN, the blade is grasped firmly — cutting edge away from the palm of the hand — with the thumb pointing directly toward the handle. The first, second and third fingers are lined up on the opposite side of the blade. The knife is then thrown handle first — keeping the plane of the blade horizontal — at a distance of six or seven paces, thus enabling the weapon to make one and one-half spins in flight to stick point first. Again move forward or backward until you find your proper distance for successful throws. A knife which has sharp cutting edges on both sides of the blade should never be thrown by the blade. Such a knife is not safe to throw except by the handle.


5. The type of knife thrown by the professionals has no sharp edges to cut the hand. (The Tru-Bal Classic PRO-THROW is such a knife.) The professional, therefore, always throws the knife with the plane of the blade vertical, regardless of whether or not it is hurled by handle or blade in the professional style of throwing. The stance is the same for either type of throw, with only the distance to the target being adjusted to allow for a half spin, full spin, spin and one-half, or a double. A professional knife such as the PRO-THROW, the SPORT-PRO or even the THROWING DIRK Model No. 76, is best thrown at a spin and one-half distance, when thrown by the blade in the professional style.

Your target should be made of well-seasoned soft wood. (Soft white pine is excellent.) Try to obtain boards from a dismantled old building or from your local dealer in used lumber. Get them about three inches thick and as wide as possible. Make your target three to five feet high and two or more feet wide, with the grain of the wood vertical. Nail cross pieces on the back to hold the target tightly together. Hang it or nail it up in a safe location and you are ready for some real sport.

A word of caution — because knives when thrown can take some crazy bounces! Keep spectators and other contestants well back of the thrower. Observe sensible safety rules at all times. You can devise your own scoring system and have a lot of fun. Keep your knives lightly oiled when not in use to prevent rust.

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