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efreysson
03-08-2008, 02:01 AM
Two major supporting characters in my book use a throwing knife, and a throwing axe, respectively, as weapons. I was hoping someone could tell me how far those two can be thrown with lethal force, and maybe describe the basic technique. I intend for the axe to be fairly large (similar to the fransisca), and the knives to be however large they need to be to inflict serious wounds to a person. Both of the characters have over 20 years of practice and experience with their respective weapons, and both are fairly strong.

Please accept my advance gratitude for helping me out. :)

Sarpedon
03-08-2008, 02:43 AM
well, debate rages as to whether people actually could throw knives and axes effectively. There seems to be no way to guarantee that the sharp part hits the target instead of the blunt part.

Mr Flibble
03-08-2008, 02:49 AM
Pretty close if you want to be absolutely sure. If you're lucky - how far can they throw? They aren't a long range weapon, more a 'oh crap there's someone coming towards me with a big sword' kind of weapon, or an assassin's 'get close and kill 'em' thing.

Throwing knives are more about balance etc. but about six - eight inches including the haft is usual. Smaller are quite often used, it depends on whether concealing them is an issue. They have to be properly balanced knives too -- it gets tricky if not.

Axes, longer ( 11-12" or so).

And yes, with practice you can get the sharp bit to whack the guy. A lot of practice.

Mumut
03-08-2008, 03:51 AM
At school I carried a knife in a slim, chamois leather sheath on the inside of my left arm. It was about six inches long and very flat. The haft was about a third of the knife's length and faced my hand. I'd take it out by the haft and quickly change grip to hold the end of blade which was a fraction wider and sharp both sides. The extra width gave weight to the sharp end so a skilled thrower would most times stick it into the target. But I never threw at anything more than a few paces away. I was very accurate, though.

Itonas
03-08-2008, 10:26 PM
Well like with everything in life if you practice enough you will become the best at it, so yes with enough time and patiance you can get very effective with a knife, and not just a proper throwing knife, but with all pointy things. I have been throwing knife for 12 years and I am preatty acurate, and when I was at my peak compeating against my brother every day I did not only get it in the target the sharp end in every time, but I could hit the same target every time, with the occassional fluke.
Now I am no master, but there sure are many still today. The best example are circuses and fairs in europe, specialy the wilder balkans where I live. There you can still see a women strapped up to a wheel with a blind folded guy throwing eight knifes at her, while she is spinning, and he does it all in a burst of 2 to 3 seconds.

So if you practice you can become extreamly efficent and deadly with a throwing blade, and keep in mind that knights practiced for years, even up to 10 years to become the war machines we hear off, they learned how to master the axe, the sword, and later on the heavy mace, not to mention the spear.

Now when it comes to distance it depends on many things. Your skill, your strenght, how are you throwing the knife. What way are you used to holding it, do you have time to get a proper grab on it, are you moving, spinning, is the blade in you hand, or do you have to pull it out. In short under the perfect circumastances I could throw a knife and be accure every time from very short distances, four meters at the most, but then that would be in doors with no wind, or distactions, in real combat I say two meters is good for a competent thrower, at 3 meters accuracy would allready suffer, but a ,aster could probably get distance in there. And that is what the throwing axe is for.

Since the axe has greater weight it can be throw farther, and even if it is an obscure weapon it was wiedly used by many groups of warriors. The most commun assossiation with the throwing axe or hatchet are probably the Celt, and Franks, which are celts after all. The romans suffered at the hand of this weapon, and if you dig around enough you can find records that state just how devastating a hundred flying axes comming out of the woods can be. Once again everything I said for the knife goes for the axe, other than the axe was mostly used as a prelude to the fight and then a warrior would relly more on a sword, axe or spear.
(if you need more info feel free to contact me, sorry about the spelling but it is really late here and I am really tiered.)

Craig Gosse
03-08-2008, 10:59 PM
well, debate rages as to whether people actually could throw knives and axes effectively. There seems to be no way to guarantee that the sharp part hits the target instead of the blunt part.

I'd hardly say there's a debate -a good many cultures throughout history have used thrown blades of various sort in warfare.

In any case, efreysson, you might find the following interesting...

http://youtube.com/watch?v=rCXFXUZ0DEs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqEQLOwysto

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njG1STYKMF8&NR=1


...and then, there's THIS:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MP8B11B17Ck

efreysson
03-10-2008, 02:00 AM
I'd hardly say there's a debate -a good many cultures throughout history have used thrown blades of various sort in warfare.

In any case, efreysson, you might find the following interesting...

http://youtube.com/watch?v=rCXFXUZ0DEs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqEQLOwysto

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njG1STYKMF8&NR=1


...and then, there's THIS:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MP8B11B17Ck

Ah, very informative and encouraging in regards to my fight scenes. Thanks.

And how stupid of me to not realize that youtube could answer all of my questions. :)

efreysson
03-10-2008, 02:09 AM
Now when it comes to distance it depends on many things. Your skill, your strenght, how are you throwing the knife. What way are you used to holding it, do you have time to get a proper grab on it, are you moving, spinning, is the blade in you hand, or do you have to pull it out. In short under the perfect circumastances I could throw a knife and be accure every time from very short distances, four meters at the most, but then that would be in doors with no wind, or distactions, in real combat I say two meters is good for a competent thrower, at 3 meters accuracy would allready suffer, but a ,aster could probably get distance in there.

Hm. I better keep that in mind. Thanks.

Sarpedon
03-10-2008, 05:16 PM
Yeah, but if the target moves even a few inches, the wrong end of the knife would hit it. Throwing a knife at a fixed target is one thing, having it be useful in a fight is another.

Most 'throwing knives' as celebrated in african cultures are in fact purely decorative, and even used as currency, rather than actually being thrown at anything.

On that improvised throwing weapon video on youtube, I noticed that the guy seemed to be throwing most of those things without spin. Thats fine, thats how just about any real throwing weapon would be thrown, except for the boomerang or thrown club (or throwing star). I also note that on youtube, they can always edit out the parts where the wrong end of the axe hits the target.

The fact of the matter is this; Thrown axes and knives are usually found in fiction. I can't think of any historical account I've read where knives or axes are used as missiles. Can you find a historical example of a person killed by a thrown knife or axe? Probably there is one or two, but the fact remains that in military applications, people used spears, darts and javelins as missile weapons, not axes and knives.

Craig Gosse
03-10-2008, 06:27 PM
Throwing a knife at a fixed target is one thing, having it be useful in a fight is another.

Erm... 'Shooting your rifle at a fixed target is one thing....', 'Swinging your sword at...', etc., etc.

There are a good number of historical records in which thrown objects were used in warfare. (Look at the battle of Tours in 732, or Roman accounts of the Battle in the Teutoburg Forest in 9.) (Yes, that's right - just '9'.)

Mankind has used many weapons throughout history, and all of them 'badly flawed' in one way or another. ("A pistol that fires just ONE shot... what use is that, man!" *Grin*)

Sarpedon
03-10-2008, 06:52 PM
Thrown weapons are one thing, as I thought I made clear. I'm talking about weapons with one end that are sharp and one end that is blunt, being thrown with a spin, and somehow magically able to hit a moving target with the sharp end going first.

The difference between a rifle and a thrown axe include these two important points:

The rifle bullet is fast enough that the target can take no meaningful evasive manuvers while the projectile is in the air.

and more important to this discussion: the rifle bullet will work if the distance to the target changes unexpectedly, unlike a thrown axe, which any change in distance will cause the non-sharp end to hit instead of the blade. Thats what I am saying.

If you swing a sword properly, anything in its arc will get cut. If you fire a bullet, anything in its path will get pierced. The same with an arrow, or a javelin. If you throw a knife, something in its path will NOT NECESSARILY GET CUT, because it might be the blunt end hitting it. Thats my point.

It is this INHERENT FLAW in the combat system; A thrown knife is less reliable than a thrown dart. Thats why it is not historically used, except under unusual situations. Name one army that had axes and knives issued to it for use as projectile weapons. I can think of lots of armies that had bows, crossbows, javelins, darts, rocks, and other such weapons, but none that relied on that 50/50 chance of blunt vs pointy end hitting. Its hard enough to hit a target with a thrown object. Having accomplished that, you don't want there to be a 50/50 chance of the target not suffering damage just because your weapons system is flawed.

Knives are for stabbing, Axes are for chopping. You don't throw your sword, and you don't beat someone with your crossbow. Don't throw your axe.

Vincent
03-10-2008, 07:06 PM
For what it's worth.

Family history has it that in the wild 1800s, while living in the very remote Aussie highlands, when bullets were expensive and hard to get, my ancestors were pretty skilled at hunting with axes. Apparently they favoured a type of double-bladed 'American' axe, whatever that means, and could bring down a running kangaroo.

Sarpedon
03-10-2008, 07:12 PM
Well thats interesting beezle, thank you.

I would point out that the kangaroo is unlikely to come and kill you if you fail to get it with the axe, so while your story shows that it is indeed possible to kill a kangaroo or a man with a thrown axe, it probably isn't something you'd care to gamble your life on.

If I'm in a fight, and have an axe, the last thing I'd do is throw it away.

And for what its worth, I'm pissed that its illegal to import kangaroo meat into the USA.

The so called american axes were so called because if your axe has two blades, you don't have to take it to be sharpened as often. Useful if you are on the american frontier and blacksmiths are few and far between.

veinglory
03-11-2008, 03:00 AM
In modern competition axes are thrown 20 feet. The rotation has to be judged to make sure the pointy pit hits the target. I am guessing the axe would not be a long distance weapon as the rotation diminishes the force a lot.

HeronW
03-11-2008, 03:17 PM
Vikings used double or single headed axes, American Indians used tomahawks, the ancient Greeks used the double-headed labrys--and all were thrown in battle, followed up by a charge. Depending on the balance and the weight, acurracy varied from 7-15 yards. Even if you were struck by the flat of a large axe, it could still break bone by shear force. Well-balanced throwing knives are a one shot deal, though very effective and at close range, having a master flicking half a dozen something's going to bleed.

Sarpedon
03-11-2008, 06:41 PM
Vikings used double or single headed axes, American Indians used tomahawks, the ancient Greeks used the double-headed labrys--and all were thrown in battle, followed up by a charge

Oh really? Sources? I've read Herodotus, and Thucydides, and I guess I missed the part where they were throwing labryses.

I know that Vikings and other people had axes. I also know that an axe was just too precious to be thrown in battle. For example, a sword cost 3 or more oxen. Most Vikings couldn't afford swords; axes were cheaper than swords, but most vikings had spears, which are cheapest of all. If you can only afford one weapon, why would you throw it away? If you could afford two weapons, and intended to throw one, why not buy a javelin instead of an axe? Its both cheaper and more effective thrown.

I know that american natives had tomahawks. I also know they had bows. And guns too. Why throw your tomahawk when you can shoot your bow? how much does a tomohawk cost in comparison with an arrow? Why would you throw away your sidearm instead of using your bow? How many tomahawks do you think the average brave had? Whats he going to do when he misses, use foul language? A thrown axe moves more slowly than an arrow, as those youtube vidoes show. Anyone who's paying attention could dodge that.

I simply don't believe you. The economics are all wrong, it makes no sense. Give me a source. Did Julius Caesar write; "Then the gauls all flung their axes, and rushed my men?" When Herodotus described the vast army of the Persians, were there any who were equipped with throwing axes? No, it was bows, javelins, and more bows. In the Iliad, did the greek warriors fling their labrys at each other? No, they flung spears at each other.

Give me a source, and I'll believe you.

I've said it before; I'm sure that someone somewhere once threw an axe at someone and killed him, but it has never been common practice, and it is not a good idea.

rtilryarms
03-11-2008, 07:59 PM
I am very good with knives and axes, among other weapons.
Be careful on the circus and showy stuff on youtube etc. Most show methods are just that, various tricks are used to make it look good. As with nunchukus , bowstaffs and swords, etc there are demonstration techniques and there are combat techniques. Rarely do the two resemble each other.

Donít use throwing knives for combat throwing. My throwing weapon of choice is the M5 or M6 carbine short bayonet. I am very accurate up to 20 feet holding the rounded side of the blade (the top half must be dulled as it is sharpened) thumb on top and fingers cuffed underneath just shy of the blade edge. I throw with a chopping motion. The lentgh of my throw determines the extension of my motion. Up to 20 feet, I rotate only Ĺ revolution.
The weight of the handle will drive the blade to the hilt on a soft target and will stick 1 inch into plywood.

What you see with balanced knives are soft woods. Balanced knives take an extra hard throw to make it stick into plywood. Carnies have a well-used portion of the wood when they demonstrate a throw. You give 3 bucks for 5 throws and have to heave it to stick. Money gone. No prize.

As far as not quick enough, I have won many competitions against people with hip and shouldered-holstered handguns in demonstrations. I carry the knife on right lower hip and unsheathe with my left hand extracting the hilt and bring it up to my already-cocked throwing hand. The exchange of hands is simultaneous with the throw. It is lighting-fast.

The competition was used against a shooting backdrop and the lights would be darkened save for a spotlight shining through us to the backdrop. So we were actually shooting at and throwing at each others shadows. My advantage came with the condition of safety being engaged on an automatic (shouldered weapon) or an un-cocked revolver (hip holster). Without those split-second delays I would lose against a good gunman.
In all cases I am able to throw a ďkill shotĒ to the torso.
And if I happen to miss with the Carbine bayonet, the weight will knock them out :)

Axes are different. I didnít look up your axe but any old style battle axe will work, (That wasnít a wife joke), preferably with two sided blades for throwing. The type with a single blade and point is for hand-to-hand combat.
Throwing an axe is for show. It simply isnít practical. But the long axes are thrown with 2 hands and 1/2 revolution and the short axes, which I prefer, are very similar to the knife throw I describe above, is a whole revolution.

Knife and axe throwing is not practical much beyond 15 feet because reaction time of the opponent increases. Thatís why I stopped at 20 feet and Ĺ revolution.
And closer than 10 feet does not give me room to throw effectively. So I would keep throw-fighting between 10 and 18 feet. 10 or below a knife-fighter slides in for hand-to-hand and further than 18 a knife-fighter runs like crazy.

Real knife combat does not happen like on movies or TV.

Craig Gosse
03-11-2008, 08:30 PM
Oh really? Sources?


'Each man carried a sword and shield and an axe. Now the iron head of this weapon was thick and exceedingly sharp on both sides while the wooden handle was very short. And they are accustomed always to throw these axes at one signal in the first charge and thus shatter the shields of the enemy and kill the men.' Procopious, 6th Century.

'John Atherton continued to dress like an overlander and was a colourful figure, carrying all his life a facial scar, the result of a stone tomahawk thrown from ambush.' Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3

'At one time, when the Indians had gained ground, a young brave amused himself by throwing his tomahawk as near Putnam's head as possible without hitting it. While engaged in this pleasant occupation, the weapon several times struck the tree within a hair's-breadth of the mark.' Francis Drake, 1884

I think the problem here is that YOU don't see the logic in it, and therefore assume nobody throughout history ever has. I propose to 'skew your view' of the matter. I'm sure you admit that many BLUNT throwing objects have been used throughout history, including (but not limited too) the mace. Now, instead of deriding the 'disadvantage' of a throwing ax, consider this - it's a BLUNT throwing object with the ADDED ADVANTAGE that you *might* hit somebody with the very sharp edge...! (*Grin*)

Sarpedon
03-11-2008, 09:57 PM
That is a very good point, thank you.

Sarpedon
03-11-2008, 11:17 PM
However, he did provide sources. I've never read Procopius, though I've heard of him.

My reading list keeps getting longer (sigh).

You'll note that his examples were a cavalryman, who presumably could afford the extra weight, and two examples of STONE axes being tossed, so presumably not particularly expensive, nor necessarily part of a well thought out combat system.

Craig Gosse
03-11-2008, 11:32 PM
But battle gear was so heavy that I doubt any soldier with a brain would carry several axes

Historically, the actual purpose of thrown axes and maces in European/Nordic tradition were not specifically to target another man, and no 'extras' were carried - they were used in 'first charges', in order to break a shield line/wall. Pikemen, at the forefront of a defensive formation, with intact pole-arms and shields, were extremely costly to assault, 'unshaken', by either infantry of cavalry. They were also poor targets for archers, especially since a shield would 'absorb' them at best, or even deflect them. (Especially such shields with metal bossing).

In the case of 'aboriginal' peoples, and even Classical culture 'auxiliaries', the purpose was somewhat related: such warrior usually failed to boast long swords, pole-arms, or archer support. Indeed, in the case of the American Indian, it usually came down to a 'knife fight'. Thrown weapons were an attempt to 'throw off' your opponent, even if momentarily, to gain the time to close in to weapon's reach.

...historically speaking.

rtilryarms
03-11-2008, 11:36 PM
Just so you know, from what I was taught, throwing weapons was only appropriate when the enemy had his back turned. It was only honorable if you were helping an ally battling more than one person, if it looked like he about to get pounced on, etc.
That was the historical practice that we were taught.

Sarpedon
03-11-2008, 11:43 PM
Now craig, good point but, wouldn't javelins be more useful in that application? Thats what the Romans used, and they were no slouches when it came to whipping the ol' phalanx.

How many phalanxes did the vikings encounter, anyway?

efreysson
03-11-2008, 11:58 PM
I am very good with knives and axes, among other weapons.
Be careful on the circus and showy stuff on youtube etc. Most show methods are just that, various tricks are used to make it look good. As with nunchukus , bowstaffs and swords, etc there are demonstration techniques and there are combat techniques. Rarely do the two resemble each other.

Donít use throwing knives for combat throwing. My throwing weapon of choice is the M5 or M6 carbine short bayonet. I am very accurate up to 20 feet holding the rounded side of the blade (the top half must be dulled as it is sharpened) thumb on top and fingers cuffed underneath just shy of the blade edge. I throw with a chopping motion. The lentgh of my throw determines the extension of my motion. Up to 20 feet, I rotate only Ĺ revolution.
The weight of the handle will drive the blade to the hilt on a soft target and will stick 1 inch into plywood.
.....

The competition was used against a shooting backdrop and the lights would be darkened save for a spotlight shining through us to the backdrop. So we were actually shooting at and throwing at each others shadows. My advantage came with the condition of safety being engaged on an automatic (shouldered weapon) or an un-cocked revolver (hip holster). Without those split-second delays I would lose against a good gunman.
In all cases I am able to throw a ďkill shotĒ to the torso.
And if I happen to miss with the Carbine bayonet, the weight will knock them out :)

Axes are different. I didnít look up your axe but any old style battle axe will work, (That wasnít a wife joke), preferably with two sided blades for throwing. The type with a single blade and point is for hand-to-hand combat.
Throwing an axe is for show. It simply isnít practical. But the long axes are thrown with 2 hands and 1/2 revolution and the short axes, which I prefer, are very similar to the knife throw I describe above, is a whole revolution.

Knife and axe throwing is not practical much beyond 15 feet because reaction time of the opponent increases. Thatís why I stopped at 20 feet and Ĺ revolution.
And closer than 10 feet does not give me room to throw effectively. So I would keep throw-fighting between 10 and 18 feet. 10 or below a knife-fighter slides in for hand-to-hand and further than 18 a knife-fighter runs like crazy.

Ah, this is very informative. Thanks a lot. Could you maybe link me to a picture of a good combat throwing knife?

Craig Gosse
03-12-2008, 12:14 AM
How many phalanxes did the vikings encounter, anyway?

Relatively few, unless you count the 'expatriate' Norsemen fighting with the Goths, Visigoths and Vandals in the Germanic wars.

On the other hand - both Normans and Saxons used shield-line defensive formations. Though 'static' formations, rather than the mobile ones the much more highly trained Roman phalanxes allowed, they were nevertheless very effective unless first 'shaken'. (Breached and/or 'rippled'.)

Incidentally, the Anglo-Saxons disdained the use of archers for warfare - and the Vikings, while versed in the use of spears, the archetypical use for it was as a hand-to-hand weapon, rather than a cast one. (Not that they wouldn't use it as such - but since axes, and even more so, swords, were expensive and difficult to aqcuire form many Norsemen, the spear was quite often the 'primary weapon', with a long-bladed dagger being the secondary.)

Craig Gosse
03-12-2008, 12:33 AM
One last thought. Horses were introduced relatively late. That is, warfare and weapons were relatively well developed by the time horses began being used. And before that, archers had long been used effectively.

If you, could, please edit your post indicate cultures and time frames - what you've just stated can, at best, apply only to two or three tiny slices of time/place - there are many cultures where the 'warrior tradition' grew from being mounted, for example, and infantry was sort of an after thought - or wherein archery had no practical purpose in warfare, for that matter. As an exemplar - 1066, the Normans used 'regimental archers' as part of regular forces, whereas the Anglo-Saxons almost completely disdained it - it was used by individuals, at best, rather than part of any interlocking battle plan.

(This rapidly changed after the Anglo-Saxons saw what the Norman archers could do, which in turn lead to the famed English Longbow some time later...)

Sarpedon
03-12-2008, 12:38 AM
Actually, I would think that cavalry axe throwing would be more effective than infantry axe throwing (though still not as effective as cavalry javelin throwing) because the momentum of the horse would be added to the missile.

rtilryarms
03-12-2008, 01:06 AM
Ah, this is very informative. Thanks a lot. Could you maybe link me to a picture of a good combat throwing knife?

This is my favorite. M6 Carbine bayo. The M5 is slightly older and little difference. This one is best because the surplus is great and you can buy them for under $20 each. I abuse the hell out of them and mine are all about 35 years old. They still have an edge and tough to nick them. The steal is similar to an old car leaf-spring in the suspension.

My thumb rests tight on that ridge and the rounded edge at the top is between my thumb and index finger. the heel of my palm actually used the pointy tip for support and final-throw control. The tip need not be razor sharp, infact rounded is best. These things ahve great weight to do the damage without a hard throw.

I made a mistake in my last post. I went out back and threw a mock long axe. It must do a whole revolution too. It is a poor weapon to throw close. I estimate that I need at least 15'.
I actually prefer no revolution but that takes the blades out of sticking contention. They are effective for slicing in the no revolution method.

I'd have to film my style to properly explain it. It's a very ancient style.

And they don't call the knife holder a sheathe, it's a scabbard.

http://www.e-gunparts.com/images/ebay/Store/730610.jpg

efreysson
03-14-2008, 02:52 AM
This is my favorite. M6 Carbine bayo. The M5 is slightly older and little difference. This one is best because the surplus is great and you can buy them for under $20 each. I abuse the hell out of them and mine are all about 35 years old. They still have an edge and tough to nick them. The steal is similar to an old car leaf-spring in the suspension.

My thumb rests tight on that ridge and the rounded edge at the top is between my thumb and index finger. the heel of my palm actually used the pointy tip for support and final-throw control. The tip need not be razor sharp, infact rounded is best. These things ahve great weight to do the damage without a hard throw.

I made a mistake in my last post. I went out back and threw a mock long axe. It must do a whole revolution too. It is a poor weapon to throw close. I estimate that I need at least 15'.
I actually prefer no revolution but that takes the blades out of sticking contention. They are effective for slicing in the no revolution method.

I'd have to film my style to properly explain it. It's a very ancient style.

And they don't call the knife holder a sheathe, it's a scabbard.


Okay, thanks again. Now I'll just have to come up with a low-tech version of that design. And a combat throwing knife can also be used as a melee weapon? Sweet. I'd heard that throwing knives were balanced in a way that made them impractical in hand-to-hand.