Number of posts : 3416 Reputation : 405 Join Date : 2007-12-06 Location : Spinning in circles - Seattle area
Subject: Tomahawk Throwing November 5th 2011, 7:31 am
People familiar with tomahawks and their use often refer to them as "hawks". Similarly, terms like pipe-tomahawk have been shortened to pipe-hawk. Tomahawk targets frames are usually called hawk-boards or hawk-blocks.
The average tomahawk has a blade up to 4 inches wide at the cutting edge and a handle from 14 to 20 inches long. Weights run from half a pound to three pounds. The average throwing hawk weighs a little less than two pounds. A forged blade is preferred as it can be readily sharpened with a file and will take considerable abuse without breaking. Handles, however, are not as forgiving and should be considered, at least to some extent, expendable items. This is especially true during the learning period. The sides of the handle should be thinner. This helps in holding the hawk straight and in grasping it the same way every time. The handles on most good quality hawks are a drive fit down through the eye of the blade. The handle, therefore, should also be tapered to some degree. Some hawks are drilled and a pin is driven through the eye of the blade and the handle. This often tends to weaken the handle and encourage splitting. The best way to install a handle to a blade is to make sure the wood of the handle is as dry as possible when they are driven together. Normal moisture will cause the wood to swell slightly to make the fit all the more snug. The blade does tend to slide down the handle from time to time through usage. This usually occurs when the handle end of the hawk strikes the target first. When this happens, merely drive the blade back on the handle until it is snug again.
It is strongly recommended that if one happens to be fortunate enough to own a good pipe-hawk or other ceremonial type hawk, he refrain from throwing it for fear of damaging the frail, hollow or decorative handle. Since most hawk throwing is done at a minimum distance of 12 feet, measure off that distance from a suitable target and then take one full step back.
The suggested stance is feet comfortable side by side. The weight should be shifted to the right foot, assuming you're right handed, just before throwing. At the same time as the swing of the throwing arm, step forward with the left leg. The action of the feet is not unfamiliar to that of a man throwing a ball. Some people find it more natural to reverse the footwork and step forward with the right leg. Choose whichever is more comfortable and natural to you.
Grip and Release
Take hold of your tomahawk as you would hold a tack hammer. The thumb should be at the side of the handle while the fingers are wrapped around the handle. Point the hawk, cutting edge down, and the throwing arm fully extended towards the target. The throwing arm is then raised over the shoulder without fully bending the elbow. When the arm is brought down to a near horizontal position, the fingers are opened for the release. At the moment of release, when the fingers are opened, the position of the hand is similar to the appearance of a hand being offered in a handshake. Be careful not to twist the wrist as this will make the hawk go somewhat sideways. Use mostly arm motion and a minimum of wrist action. Don't try to throw too hard. The average hawk, if sharp, will almost stick of it's own weight. Power, speed and more important, accuracy will come with time and practice.
Making the Hawk Stick
Even if you're using a hawk with a spike, we're only concerned with making the cutting edge stick in the target. If after throwing your hawk a half way each time, you can't get it to the hawk strikes the target first dozen times, the exact same stick, notice what part of the head of the hawk hits first, you are probably using too much wrist action. Try again releasing a little earlier and controlling your wrist action more. If the handle hits first, throw again in exactly the same way except back up six inches to a foot at a time until you get "blade" in the block. Once you get your distance, measure it and pace it off. Remember that distance. it is your "standard" throwing distance. Practice at that distance until you can consistently get at least ten throws in a row to stick in the block. Now you'll be looking for accuracy. From this point on it's practice and more practice.
Variations Once you get your "standard" throw down pat, you will want to experiment with variations of the basic throw. The standard throw causes the tomahawk to make one full revolution. By backing up about 9 or so feet, you can get the hawk to make two full turns and stick. By backing up about 5 feet from your standard distance, and holding the hawk cutting edge up, you can get your hawk to make one and a half turns and stick with the handle pointing up. As with your standard throw, you will have to experiment a bit to find your particular proper distances. As you get more and more proficient through practice, you will find that your distances no longer need be so exact as you will have developed better control of your throwing technique. Remember, it is more important to be very good at one distance than to be just fair at many distances.
You will want to be able to throw your hawk at a run. In doing so, try to run by your target rather than towards it. In doing so, your distance from the target will remain more constant. If necessary, run towards the target then cut to your left and throw to the side rather than to the front. Try to maintain as close as you can to your standard distance while running by the target. Here again, success follows practice.
Uses The type hawk I personally prefer and use is the forged type offered on the market as the "squaw-hawk". It has a 15 inch handle and a total weight of 3/4 pound. This hawk, because of its weight and size is an excellent one to carry. It is nowhere near as cumbersome as the larger ones and it can be thrown all day without "throwing your arm out".
As a man is familiar with the possibilities of his rifle, so should he be familiar with the possibilities of his tomahawk. It is a tool and he should seek as many uses as he can for it. If kept properly sharpened, one can easily field dress and skin a big game animal with a hawk. The pelvic bone problem is solved with a flip of the wrist. In skinning, a natural for the hawk, the poll is held in the hand with the handle sticking out on side or the other. (See Fig. 7) It's obvious use as a hatchet for chopping or splitting wood needs no explanation. The poll can be used, to some degree, as a hammer. My hawk poll is kept somewhat flat for that purpose. If you have a spike-hawk, you have a built-in pick. Of course, any hawk can be used as a digging tool in an emergency. Hawks have even been used as paddles. The many uses of the tomahawk are limited only to the user's imagination.
--------------------------------------------------------------- Take aim, bring the tomahawk back over the shoulder, then bring your hand quickly down swinging the body forward, let fly the tomahawk.
Note How the Hatchet Strikes Its Edge Between Turns Shown by Dotted Line The weapon will turn over and over, as shown by the dotted line in the diagram. At a distance of about ten feet it will make two turns and stick. Of course, you must learn to gauge the distance so that at the end of the last somersault the hatchet will strike the target with the cutting edge so that it will stick.
If the distance of the throw is to be increased, one must be sure to step back far enough to allow the hatchet to make another somersault and a rise before the cutting edge can bit. It is generally safe to count on a revolution and a half to make a hit, and one soon learns to gauge this distance, and can add or subtract a hitting distance by stepping forward or backward, as the case may be. Not only can this be done, but the novice will learn to measure a distance with his eyes, and, even at a long throw, will instinctively know whether to step forward or backward in order to make a hit, and he will also know just how his hatchet will strike the target.
Diagrams and talk can explain all this, but only practice can produce the skill and judgment which makes one so ready and rapid with the tomahawk that we call the action instinctive.
Of all the skills of the early frontiersman, few have the romance attached that throwing the tomahawk does. We've all seen it done with aplomb in various movies and TV shows, and it is made to seem a deadly, frequently used skill. That's probably mostly modern day imagination, because few recorded accounts of its being done in combat have come down to us. When you think of it, who would want to throw away a perfectly good weapon? We will probably never know the truth about it, but that shouldn't prevent our having a lot of fun with it. It certainly is a favorite pastime at most rendezvous, and will continue to be.
It's an impressive thing to watch when you first are exposed to it, but, like many other things, it's not as difficult as it seems. With a little knowledge and a few hours of practice, even fairly small children get quite good at it. Let's discuss what I consider the basics so you can get to practicing.
Not all tomahawks are created equal, and there is no doubt some of them are very difficult to throw well because of the way they are made. The ideal tomahawk for throwing should not be very heavy, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds is about right. You can throw one of that size for a long time without tiring, and it also will allow you to have better control. Length is important, too, very important. Most tomahawks come with a handle which is too long. Because of the physics involved, there is an easy way to find a proper length for you. Make a fist. Measure from your knuckles to the tip of your elbow. That length should be the overall length of your hawk, including the head. A simple tomahawk is best, and ones with complicated configurations may not throw well. My favorite is the 'squaw axe' shown at left. Notice that it is shaped so that the leading edge sticks forward a bit, making for good sticking qualities. My usual belt axe, shown at right, is about the same shape, the handle is the same length, and I do throw it, but it's harder to work with. Two things cause that. Notice that it has a flat poll, which is great for pounding stakes, breaking rocks, etc. but causes the axe to be less well balanced than the other and heavier by about 3/4 pound.
Most people find a straight-grained hickory or ash handle to be best, and both are very durable. Your tomahawk need not be razor sharp for throwing, but the edge should be filed with a fairly thin "V" edge for better penetration in the block.
How far do you stand from the target? It depends.... how tall are you? Because the throwing motion you will use depends on the length of your arms, legs and torso, the distance will be the one which fits you , but may fit no one else. You'll have to find that distance by trial and error, but it ain't hard. The average man will find that 5 1/2 normal paces will be a good place to start, with modifications as you become more experienced.
Stand with your back touching the block, pace off your distance and turn to face the target. Stand at an angle to the target, turned about 45 degrees to the right for a right handed person. Your left foot will be angled away from the target to the right, and your right, or rear, foot will be angled moreso. Stand with most of your weight on your back foot. The position will seem very familiar to pistol shooters, except it is reversed from the stance used there. What you are looking for is a natural throwing stance, not much different from throwing a rock.
Refer to this sequence of photos as you read through the directions in order to visualize what you need to do.
I like to hold the tomahawk at the end of the handle with my right hand, blade toward the ground, and cradle the handle behind the hawk head in my left. Rock back so that even more of your weight is on your rear foot, at the same time letting the tomahawk swing first down toward your right knee and then back up over your right shoulder. Don't exaggerate, what you are looking for is just a normal, comfortable throwing motion. When the axe reaches the back of its swing over your shoulder, simply throw it. Look at the target with all the concentration possible ---THINK IT INTO THE TARGET---, forget everything else, and just throw it. You will find that as you do this you will just naturally shift your body weight forward, and that it will seem right to take about a half-step, or so, toward the target with your left, or front, foot. Your rear foot may follow just a bit, but should usually just drag a few inches on the ground.
Of all the mistakes a beginner makes, I think wrist action is the most frequent and the worst. You don't want to do anything to control the spin of the tomahawk. Nothing. Don't 'flip' it to increase the rotation, and don't retard the rotation by stiffening up your wrist. Just throw it with a neutral wrist and let it fly naturally from your hand. Because of complicated reasons involving physics and the length of hawk and throwing levers, it will make the proper one-full-spin and strike blade first with no help from you. If you help, it won't
The second most troublesome error is to throw the hawk too hard. Throw it with only a little more force than is needed to easily reach the target. You'll have to learn that if you ever expect to attain consistent accuracy. You can, with practice, cut a playing card many times in a row when you are throwing well, but not if you are trying to chop down the block.
As with so many other sports, follow-through is critical, and you'll do much better if you insist on having a good one. Your throwing hand should wind up in front of your left thigh and extended a bit.
Keep at it until you are getting the axe to stick part of the time, then mark your distance on the ground and return to it each time, exactly. Watch the axe and you can see what you need, because it's not spinning all that fast. Is it turning too much , more than one full turn and hitting with the flat, forward part of the head? Shorten your distance. Is it striking handle first because it's not turning enough? Increase your distance. As your proficiency increases, move your distance mark as appropriate. You will be able to return to that distance at any other time and place, and stick the hawk reliably. With practice, you'll be able to just eyeball it and fling away
Now, practice a lot and think about what is happening. It will come together quicker than you might think.
The only non-standard throw I've ever tried is to make the hawk stick handle up instead of down, as it normally does. That involves finding a new distance, usually about two paces farther from the block and also throwing the hawk with the blade pointed backward over your shoulder, instead of forward. Try it, you may be an undiscovered world champion.
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Last edited by SINZA on November 25th 2011, 12:32 am; edited 1 time in total
Hidden-Blade XIPHOID MASTER
Number of posts : 1052 Reputation : 89 Join Date : 2010-09-13 Location : England
Subject: Re: Tomahawk Throwing November 5th 2011, 11:41 am
Very cool man, since I started throwing knives I've always wanted to try out tomahawk throwing, I'm a decent knife thrower, well, I bought some cheaper knives for like £10, I wanna try out some more expensive knives but I'm afraid that, because I've gotten so used to the cheaper knives that I'll mess up with the better, balanced knives.
Did see an axe somewhere, do they have to be balanced like throwing knives? Sorry if I missed that out in your post if you specified it!
Also known as a Retractable Forearm Dagger, Xiphoid is a class of weapons with a blade that is retractable into a forearm worn wristband/bracer sheath. Designed for swift and quick surprise attacks. It is notable for being evolved from the Katar and the Pata, punching swords with the blade sitting inline with the users fist..
There's two kinds of people in this world when you boil it all down.
You've got your 'talkers' and you've got your 'doers'.
Most people are just talkers, all they got is talk. But when all is said and done, it's the doers who change this world. And when they do that, they change us. And thats why we never forget them...
So which one are you? Do you just talk about it or do you stand up and do something about it? Because believe you me, all the rest of it is just bullshit.
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