The History of Throwing Knives

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Knife throwing has been a popular sport dating back to prehistoric times. Here is a short history about the creation and evolution of throwing knives.

Whether you're trying to hit a bulls-eye from several yards away or trying not to hit a person strapped to a rotating wheel, the art of knife throwing requires skill and concentration. What many people don't know is that knife throwing has been a popular hobby dating back to prehistoric times and has since developed significantly since then. Here is a short history about the creation and evolution of throwing knives.

Early throwing knife history

throwing knives

The origins of throwing knives date back to prehistoric times when man used throwing sticks to hunt birds and other animals. The throwing stick, widely considered one of the first weapons used by man, was also the preferred tool of Tutankhamun in Egypt around 1300 B.C. Another example of the throwing stick in early history was the boomerang, which was used by Aborigines in Australia. These large blunt objects were thrown at kangaroos and wallabies from short distances. It wasn't until metallurgy grew in popularity that the throwing stick truly evolved into the throwing knife.

Shurikens

As soon as metals were used to fashion deadlier weapons, the throwing knife almost immediately became a practical, supplemental weapon. This was especially evident in the Japanese culture where shurikens, commonly called ninja stars, were weapons of samurai warriors. There are two types of shurikens: the hira-shuriken, which is round and has four blades, and the bo-shuriken, which is long and resembles modern throwing knives.

Throwing stars and knives were not used as primary weapons for battle, but were carried as backup weapons to the katana. Since they weren't deadly enough to actually kill anyone, they were mainly used as distractions and thrown at the face of enemies in an attempt to blind them. Some rumors suggest that prior to use, some warriors would wipe the weapons in dirt or feces to give the enemies an infection if they pierced the skin.

African and Native American tribes

Throwing knives continued to be employed as weapons against other men for centuries. During many tribal wars, it was the weapon of choice for many African tribes and Native American tribes. The tomahawk, a throwing axe, was also a preferred weapon among Native American tribes during battles.

Recreational knife throwing

Beginning in the 1800s, knife throwing was growing in popularity, not as a weapon, but as a sport. At the time, there were competitions between men to find out who had the most skills and best accuracy. The competitions were seen as events of bravado and gave men bragging rights. Today, many groups like the American Knife Throwers Alliance and the International Knife Throwers Hall of Fame still conduct knife-throwing competitions each year.

Throwing knives as entertainment

These days, a person's skill in throwing knives is similarly tested by throwing them at people. However, success is not measured by hitting a person, but by artfully missing them. Going into the 19th and 20th centuries, circuses began giving shows where blindfolded experts threw knives at assistants and narrowly missed them. The enduring nature of knife throwing as entertainment is demonstrated with the appearance of knife-throwing acts on talent shows and the numerous public competitions every year.

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