This page is part of the official ARCHIVE COPY of the pioneering but abandoned Thrower website on knife throwing. Copyright and details

An essay by K. E. Sackett.

See below for a couple of hi-res spike images from list member Joe Aimetti
Also, this fabulous new page on the subject of Shuriken and other Shaken

Blackie Collins, in his booklet, Knife Throwing for Sport, Survival, and Self Defense, briefly discusses the throwing spike. After describing the general form of this type of weapon, he tosses off the casual remark that throwing spikes are "practically indestructible."

Whoa, Blackie! Stop on that one! I've destroyed enough throwing knives in my day to take real interest in a weapon that's even close to being "practically indestructible."

Actually, my experience with throwing spikes goes back to boyhood, when my older brother contrived a big, formidable throwing stiletto out of the center tine of an old pitchfork. He sawed it free on either side of the tang, leaving short lengths of the beam to serve as a crossguard, cold-hammered the blade straight, and presto! had a monster of a weapon that could be driven through two inches of pine from ten feet away, with little effort. In time, under that kind of treatment, the blade broke, first to a length of about eight inches, making a very handy-sized sticker when resharpened, and then to a length of perhaps four inches -- too short, but still fun to throw. Then I got more interested in throwing knives of conventional pattern, and in girls, so that stilettos and spikes took a back seat for many years.

Now I live in a city and don't have room in my little back yard to set up a throwing range. Instead, I hang a simple cardboard target in the garage, pull the cars out, and have a lot of fun throwing -- that's right, spikes.

A throwing spike, as I define it, has a simple outline, without projections. I called my brother's big pitchfork sticker a stiletto rather than a spike because it had a crossguard. The distinction is worth making, because once you start crafting your own spike-type weapons you'll soon be adding crossguards, pommels, tapers, turnery, piercing, jimping, and other furbelows. Good for you; undecorated weapons are against my religion. A stiletto -- that is, a dagger-like piercing weapon formed from a single piece of steel -- makes a fine throwing tool IF you can stand to put a painstaking piece of handiwork to that kind of use. But I want to talk solely about spikes, for reasons I'll come to below.

Throwing spikes offer a great deal of design leeway, combined with cheapness. Any steel rod of sufficient length and thickness will do. Sufficient length? Let's say between ten and fourteen inches; shorter than ten inches and it's hard to control; longer than fourteen inches and it's getting a bit cumbersome. Sufficient thickness? Anywhere from three-sixteenths to three-eighths of an inch in diameter is fine for making a plain throwing spike. Even half-inch steel is not too large, and gives you enough material to play around with, if you hanker for elaborations.

Throwing spikes don't have to be round in cross section, of course; in fact, a square, diamond, or triangular cross section will give better penetration in most kinds of target. (Spikes probably work best with soft targets, i.e., cardboard or styrofoam. Because they lack a cutting edge, they don't penetrate wood as well as a knife when they strike at an angle.) Just the other day, I cut a one-yard length of quarter-inch key stock into three equal pieces, filed tapered points on them (I made the profiles of the points long ogives rather than straight tapers, for a little added strength), and found I could pitch them clear through two inches of layered cardboard with ease. The sharp, square cross section, coupled with the super sectional density of a foot of steel, penetrates like a bullet. Cost? All of $3.49 for the steel, and maybe six dollars worth of sweat running that file. Fun!

Fun and lethal. As I tugged at one of my spikes, trying to free it from the plywood target backing in which it was buried after punching through some dozen thicknesses of cardboard, I imagined what this weapon would do to living tissue. I called up a grisly picture, the sort of thing emergency room staff see on Saturday nights. Once I had freed the spike, I studied the point I had put on it: not terribly sharp. You could easily file it much sharper, and maybe finish it with a medium stone, whetting until the tip was literally as fine as a needle. Hmmm.

I was holding in my hand one of the few throwing weapons in the world with real martial potential. I had seen its power as a missile. It was easy to stick; I had found I could control the spin in a variety of ways, by changing my grip (the straight, uniform contour of a typical spike makes shortening or lengthening your hold extremely simple) or by varying the arc of my throw. It was as accurate as I chose to make it, and probably more accurate than a knife. It was so cheap that it could be discarded and replaced at the slightest need. It was highly concealable in belt, pocket, sleeve, boot, anywhere; since it had no sharp edges, only a minimum amount of sheathing was necessary, say a piece of cork to sink the point into. Again because it had no sharp edges, you could shift your grip on it without risk of cutting your fingers. Several spikes could be carried at once with comfort. It could be drawn smoothly, with no danger of tangling in your clothes, because, unlike a stiletto, it had no crossguard. It could be wielded by hand in a variety of ways, both openly and by stealth.

I felt pretty somber for a few minutes. All I had meant to do was revive an old boyhood skill, and in the process I had armed myself with a cross between an assassin's tool and a convict's shank.

But after a while I cheered up. Sure, an evil-intentioned person might heel himself with throwing spikes, but only until he could steal a gun. I'm not a killer or a hoodlum; I just want to amuse myself practicing a minor throwing sport. So do my fellow-hobbyists, who can be trusted to read this little essay, try my ideas (or not), criticize, accept, reject, elaborate, nitpick, and in general have safe, harmless fun with throwing spikes.

All I would stress is that spikes are potentially a lot more dangerous than throwing knives, in my opinion. Be especially careful when practicing with them.

So then I tied four-inch string tassels to the midpoints of my spikes, and went on throwing. The tassels are just for decoration (my religion, remember?), to dress up these rather austere weapons. They flap when the spike is in flight, adding unpredictable drag and reducing accuracy, and thus make life harder

and a lot more fun.

A couple of Hi-RES Images of home made spikes.

Mail to mjr, goto Light Knives, Survival, or back to Thrower

This page is part of the official ARCHIVE COPY of the pioneering but abandoned Thrower website on knife throwing. Copyright and details