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

Throwing the Knife

Extracts from THE VIPER STORY by Harald Moeller, designer/maker of the Viper

and comments by Murray White

"The technology of knife throwing is the WEIGHT OF THE KNIFE. THE SIZE, THE CENTER OF BALANCE, THE VERTICAL BLADE HANDLE THROW, THE STYLE OF THROWING and THE GIVEN STANCE. BALANCE in knife throwing is the distribution of weight on its own length....Since as knife is ... levered from one end or another it does not fly straight like an arrow but rather tumbles end over end, revolving around its balance point....Lets look at the off balanced knife. A 12" knife with the balance at the 4" point (handle-heavy) when thrown will have the 4" part describe and 8" circle and the 8" part will describe a 16" circle resulting in a wobble effect which is undesireable. Because each unbalanced thrower will behave differently based upon the circles described in the throw, consistency if impossible. A center-balance 12" knife will have each half of the knife describe an overall 12" circle resulting in optimum performance." HARALD HAS FOUND THAT A CENTER BALANCED KNIFE NO MATTER THE WEIGHT OR SIZE PERFORM APPROXIMATELY THE SAME.

Weight--a good rule of thumb is that 1oz/1" is good keeping in mind that with heavier stock, the weight is concentrated and therefore will perform better. If the stock is heavy enough, 3/4 oz may be adequate. Harald has found that the Viper III weighing only 8oz throws the best of all at distances of >= 30' range. The 1oz/" also has two other benefits--no floating and better penetration of the target. The limits that Harald has found are 7" & 5oz up just past the 1lb. mark. At the upper end because of the exessive weight, at 40' a thrower would have difficulty hitting a 4' x6' backstop, much less the target and making the knife stick in the target.

GRIP--most of the time the blade grip has been used and this is primarily because very few knives were made that could be comfortably throw from the handle. However, there are a number of disadvantages to the blade grip.

1. if it is double edged, there is the possibility of lacerations while throwing
2. inconsistent performance results if the grip is changed by 1/4 inch as the arc is changed and this affects the throwing distance
3. a blade grip with a horizontal hold has its disadvantage the way the blade lands at the target because when it is rotating flat to the target, it has a 20 degree chance of sticking.

The vertical handle grip has a margin of sticking of 170 degrees as the blade is vertical to the target. By seeing the angle of stick from straight on to the target, the thrower will be able to adjust his distance and be able to get more straight sticks.

To help achieve a high degree of proficiency, start with a FIXED DISTANCE with a l revolution handle throw. Once this has been established, you can always return to it if through lack of practice, carelessness etc. you do not get sticks at other distances.

THE CORRECT DISTANCE is about 131/2 feet for just about all center balanced knives with a handle throw (locked wrist) and about average force.

The knife actually makes its one revolution turn at about 11' but since the throwers arms extends toward the target, allow another 2 1/2 feet for the mechanics of the throw. If you use a permanent target, measure 13 1/2 feet from the target and place a permanent toe line at that point.

When choosing a knife keep in mind to have a one piece knife that will not rust and one that is well made as you will respect it more and take better care of it.


If you are right handed the toe line will be the point at which you left foot will land when you make your throwing motion. Therefore begin in a ready stance with bent legs 2-3' behind the toe line. Wind up by cocking the arm so the knife is vertical behind the back of the head. Coincide this motion with the body leaning toward the target and a step toward the target. (just like throwing a ball--mw)

Extend the arm toward the target for a good follow through after a smooth release of the handle without any wrist snap (unlike baseball).

Observe the knife. If it has stuck, continue to practice at this distance to build up muscle memory--like golf. If it has not but has landed on the ground try again until the knife has stuck either straight or on an angle. If it is on an angle, look at the direction of the handle.

a good rule to remember:
HANDLE DOWN---too close
HANDLE UP-----too far back

Adjust your distance until you get straight sticks and then PRACTICE.

Once you have developed both consistent sticks and accuracy, then begin to move back for double revolution throws. Harald state that the next distance should be about 23'. (My arithmetic does not add up to this as 2 x 11' is 22' + 2 1/2 - 3'. Personally I begin my throwing about 7 paces back from the target, turn and throw and then increase in 1/2 the # of paces increments which is about in the same area. Just watch to see how the blade sticks and the direction of the handle.) Don't throw harder but aim higher for the loss of trajectory over the greater distance.

As you attempt to develop accuracy, you may find your knife sticks consistently but are just off the point of aim. This is because this point and the point of impact are not equal. For the right hander, you may find the point of aim 2-3" lower and to the left of the point of impact. Simply mentally adjust the aim point this distance to about the 7 o'clock area and this will probably bring the impact point to the true target area.

Harald suggests other target distances may be 23', 30'(3 revolutions) and 38' for 4 revolutions, ( I'm not convinced of this arithmetic either if each revolution takes 11 feet. I tend to use the same distances but I believe that because we throw harder with probably more wrist action, the revolutions increase with a shorter than multiple distances.)

As you become more skilled, you may be able to impart more or less action to the throw and develop the EXPERT skill to throw consistently from any spot--when you do you can quit your day job and head to Hollywood.

This information, plus that which I have added to the 'thrower' list should give most devotees a good opportunity to become adept at this fun activity. There are some other books available which I don't have permission to quote from--so I won't. The first is KNIFE THROWING a practical guide by Harry K. McEvoy by Charles E. Tuttle Co, Rutland, Vermont. ISBN 0-8048 1099-0. The other is KNIFE THROWING--Sport..Survival..Defense by Blackie Collins Knife World 730 Broadway Knoxville, Tennesee 37917 ISBN 0-940362-03-1.

Murray White, Feb. 1996

Note that the information presented by Murray just above can also be found in our custom collection, and also in books, another listing in which you may be interested.

Mail to mjr, goto HOW TO THROW, Survival, or thrower

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