We have all seen the Hollyweird version of this tale where the good guy flings a blade at the bad guy, often, in an almost casual fashion … and inevitably, the blade will cut right through thick clothing and even bone and find its way to an organ so imperative that its loss results in instant, silent death. Like many of my friends and peers, I take great pleasure in throwing blades at specific targets.
Sometimes I use my favorite, the Coleman Camp Hatchet, sometimes knives or heavy metal “needles” are the projectile of choice, and when I was a kid … and even to this day, there is something oddly satisfying about throwing skillsaw blades, burying them even in hardwood targets.
This article is not meant to discourage anyone from pursuing a very real and impressive art form, but rather to caution as to what the real world has to offer as opposed to what we see and are taught in the Hollyweird version of reality.
While I have personally only made the (very rare and) occasional foray into local jails, most notably for driving on a “suspended” license that had never been suspended, anyone who has spent time in our for-profit prison system will likely be able to attest to the fact that humans are strangely capable of surviving numerous stab wounds, even if the stabs are deep.
This is made all the more possible when one has a superbly sharpened blade, as the wound cavity will have very neat edges that are quite easy to sew back shut. It is going to hurt like hell, and generally will result in lasting soreness and stiffness, but it is not likely to be fatal unless one can make it to a vital organ.
Add in a layer or two of heavy (military style) clothing, and the challenges become even greater. If you have access to a large supply of ballistic gel, you can make mannequin shaped dummies or even purchase them in some areas. Ideally these will be replete with internal skeletons and organs if you wish to use them to effectively test the temerity and efficacy of your throwing knife collection.
Lacking the requisite funding to spend on an otherwise frivolous expenditure, try putting a military style, heavy cloth shirt and then a military jacket over a watermelon and seeing how those throwing knives fare against this exceedingly soft target. The answer in reality, is that even if there is some minor “blunt trauma” damage to your watermelon, there will be very little if any actual penetration from the blade(s).
(The same even holds true for my beloved skillsaw blades … I will reluctantly confess … though the effect is much more substantial using these against an unprotected watermelon … and visually gratifying as well)
In short, if you are using throwing knives against a well-armed and/or even just a determined opponent, chances are better than not that all you will accomplish is providing them with a wider selection of tools that they will use against you in short order.
Okay then, or so say some of my detractors … but how about testing that old Coleman Hatchet out on a skull? You cannot tell me that it will not work! This can indeed work, though the chances of success are still very much in doubt, especially given the two primary factors involved.
In a combat situation, very few people are going to have the time or the ability to remain calm while they line up their shot. The only other option is to become so good at it, that this becomes an instinctive reaction … something which is substantially easier for most of us when it comes to firearms rather than throwing blades.
The other factor that must be considered, is that most of your “targets” are not going to be merely running in with their heads held perfectly still, much less unprotected.
While such an act is possible, it would be much more in line with a lucky occurrence than any amount of skill … though such skill should never be discounted as it does greatly increase the likelihood of “getting lucky”. This fall, when you are out hunting, try this feat with a boar or even a buck deer if you can get close enough.
I would not recommend personally trying it with a bear, even during bear season, as they may tend to get upset when they have proven your efforts to be largely ineffective. If there is any consolation here, it is probably only that none of these animals will pick up the hatchet and use it against you in the hand-to-hand combat that ensues … which will probably still not be much of a consolation prize at the end of the day.
At the end of the day, throwing blades can be a great pleasure. It builds up hand and eye coordination that is beneficial in many aspects of every day life, it provides a certain modicum of satisfaction to the thrower … especially if they may be the one winning any friendly side bets, and there is a lot to be said for the mastery of this art merely as an art form in and of itself.
However, if and when you are ever resorted to throwing blades as a last resort, there is only one real option. If you are reduced to blades, make certain to keep one firmly locked in hand. If a blade must be thrown in a fight or flight scenario, throw it hard, at the face or head in order to force the opponent to flinch, and follow in as quickly and closely behind the blade as possible so that you can close on your attacker while they are either still flinching or just coming out from such a defensive posture.
In this way, if you do get lucky, there is a moment to look in to their eyes, but if you do not, as is most likely going to be the case, you are still in a superior position from which you can make a better stand.