Atlatls – A Historical Perspective

by Angelo Robledo

Fifteen thousand years ago, right here in southern Nevada, a bighorn sheep died. Now, this wasn’t a strange occurrence with the circle of life and everything but HOW this bighorn sheep died is the strange part. It was killed by a strange two-legged animal standing about 15 meters away wielding a strange stick-and-spear weapon. Oddly enough, at the same time, in New York, a woolly mammoth was killed by the same stick and spear weapon by the same two-legged animal.
And in northern France, ancient caribou is killed the same way. And in Australia, a kangaroo dies the same way. Now this two-legged animal was, of course, human, but the weapon they wielded was something the animal world had never seen before, an atlatl. The atlatl is a 30,000-year-old spear type weapon used by ancient man to hunt big game. Predating the bow by 15000 years, the atlatl was the first two-part weapon or tool system ever invented by man, and next to the gun, it is the most universal of all time, found on 6 continents.

Let’s look at some of the technological design elements that helped it to become one of
the ingenious weapons ever created. The first part of the design that needs to be examined is the fletching or feathers on the back of the dart. The feathers cause drag on the back of the dart allowing for a straight flight and stability, increasing its aerodynamics creating greater accuracy and velocity. This piece of the design obviously carried over into many projectile weapons today, like arrows and even rockets, who’s fins act the same way as fletching.
Even though archaeological evidence of atlatl use was prevalent, and archaeologists
found atlatl artifacts, no one was able to replicate the feats written about by the Spaniards. They were using thick stiff spears as the projectile and getting no more than 15 meter throws with almost no velocity and horrible accuracy, not the 80 meters written about with the accuracy and velocity to take down a mammoth or Spaniard.

In 1973 an archaeology/engineering double major at Montana State University named Robert ‘Atlatl Bob’ Perkins examined the atlatl from a physics standpoint after learning about it in one of his anthropology classes. He theorized that instead of a thick stiff spear, a thin flexible dart was necessary for a powerful flight. At the 1974 Montana State atlatl competition, he debuted his flexible dart model and shattered every accuracy and distance record at the time. He realized through applying Newton’s laws that the force of the throw would cause a stiff spear to go straight up and fish-tail because the weighted tip would resist motion. A flexible dart, however, would flex with the throw and store potential energy, releasing that energy at the apex of the flight, causing it to spring off the spur of the atlatl and keep itself straight in flight.

The next piece of engineering genius in the atlatl comes from the concept of the atlatl
itself. The atlatl system uses the idea that propelling a projectile from behind the center of gravity is more effective than propelling it from the midpoint like a javelin. This idea has translated itself into almost all projectile weapons since. If you think about it, an arrow is just a shrunken down atlatl dart. The bowstring goes into the back of the arrow and propels it from behind its center. The arrow also flexes and stores similar energy on a smaller scale as an atlatl and dart. Even firearms benefit from this, as the gunpowder goes behind the bullet pushing it forward.

Finally, the atlatl serves as an extension of your arm, creating a third arm segment that
uses leverage to transfer even greater energy into the back of the dart. All of these developments together created a weapon that shaped the development of mankind in a massive way, setting up the next 30,000 years of innovation and invention.

Atlatls are a key part of our history as a human and the universality of our development
and culture. Through understanding the history of this weapon, the genius of our ancestors in its design, and it’s translation into our modern society and culture, we are able to fully understand and appreciate our collective ancestry and what got us to the world of technological innovation.
we live in today.

Knifemaking as a Business – the Rewards and Challenges

by Patrick Brewster

Knifemaking is a combination of artistic and mechanical design and fabrication. On one hand, knifemaking is artistic sculpture – the knifemaker envisions the form, flow, and visual balance of the finished work, and skillfully transforms raw material into this vision. On the other hand, knifemaking falls under the category of tool making – the knifemaker must be skilled and knowledgeable in the areas of material science and selection, mechanical design and engineering, ergonomics, machining, and manufacturing. Furthermore, when knifemaking becomes an occupation, the knifemaker becomes a businessman and must be competent in the areas of finance, marketing, customer service, liability, bookkeeping, inventory management, tax compliance, and accounting. Furthermore, the knifemaker must deal with credit card processing, graphic design, web programming, and website and social media management.

Artist, toolmaker, and businessman – generally speaking, each is a respectable and well-paying occupation. As a frame of reference, the average salary in the US is $52,000 – and this number is also the approximate average salary for a plumber or toolmaker. It seems reasonable to think that someone who is an artist, toolmaker AND businessman could easily earn the same as a plumber, but this is not the case. It is extremely difficult to sell knives at a price that is commensurate with the sacrifice, skill, and risk demanded of the knifemaker. This is the fundamental challenge of knifemaking as a business.

Value is determined in the market, and here where this problem is rooted. The craft knife market is composed of a spectrum of knifemakers – scam artists and incompetent makers at one end, master craftsmen at the other end, and everything else in between. Most knifemakers are hobbyists, and for obvious reasons, hobbyists will always sell for less than professionals, which creates an “artificially” low market value. The knifemaker who aspires to make a living from the craft must address the following three questions. How do I distinguish my product from the competition? How do I compete in a market with artificially low perceived value? How do I cope with these difficulties while also maintaining my artistic inspiration and motivation?

The rewards of knifemaking are the same rewards experienced by the accomplished artist, toolmaker, and businessman. The artist enjoys the creative process, result, and public reception of his work. The toolmaker enjoys the inherent satisfaction of solving problems with science, technology, and ingenuity. The businessman gains a sense of accomplishment in treating customers with integrity and making people feel like their money was well spent. The challenges of knifemaking are considerable, but the rewards are profound.

No-Spin : No-Stigma

No-Spin No-Stigma by RC Samples

It was the summer of 2013; I had been out of army training for only a few months and was living in Jacksonville, Florida.  While driving about I had noticed a knife dealership with reputable cutlery brands painted on the window.  I had been filming my journey learning the art of no-spin knife throwing and was uploading knife-throwing content on my YouTube channel on a regular basis.  I walked in, the owner said “hello” and barely looked up.  I wandered past the expensive folding knives, past the cheap folding knives, and was soon staring down into the case housing throwing weapons. The typical items were all there: small United Cutlery throwers, Chinese-made stars, and steel cards.  The owner looked up and asked if there was anything I found interesting.  I told him I had a YouTube channel where I taught knife throwing tutorials and showcased my skillset.  He then told me that two young men my age had come into the store asking about throwing knives, claiming that they had seen a man on YouTube who could throw a knife like an arrow; “no-spin” is what they called it.  The owner said that he had been selling knives for decades and throwing knives all his life and that no one could throw a knife in such a way.  I looked him in the eyes and told him, “The man they were referring to in the video was me”.
He had a perplexed look on his face. I then showed him on his laptop one of my recent videos.  He was stunned and from that day on we began a friendship that would last four years, and I would buy as many of my knives as possible from his store.  His name was Danny Ridenhour and he passed away this past month. I will greatly miss the conversations we had.
Danny’s generation of knife enthusiasts has been close-minded to the realm of knife throwing, as is the case with martial artists, hunters, and even knife fighting experts.  The knife throwing community itself was close-minded to the idea up until late 2013. I was there at the first world championship in 2013 and was quite possibly the first person to use a no spin throw during a competition.  By 2014, I and others had our first sanctioned No-Spin event.  The No-Spin event drew a crowd of young, unconventional, backyard roughnecks, with raw talent and little regard for tradition or preconceived notions. Our skill has been shrouded in myth until the last few years, but within those years are numbers have grown, secrets have been revealed, and the technique is no longer a mystery.  For us, throwing a knife is throwing a knife; we are growing.  No-spin is no longer a novelty, but a way to expand the window of point first flight patterns.  Seeking independence from inches as variables and counting rotations, our throwing is more violent in nature and a spectacle to behold.
No-spinners have had to battle a stigma from the beginning; we were seen as greenhorns chasing a pipedream as if we expected our way to outshine the old.  It can be debated that our style is older anyways and has roots in Japanese shuriken-jutsu, but debating has caused a divide, and divides are something we need less of in our sport.  Our intent is different, the no-spin sensation is different, and our competitors are different in nature from the previous generation.  No spin has a certain appeal, is addictive in nature, and rewards the thrower with a sense of achievement like no other.  You have mastered the knifes’ flight; it has not mastered you.
By R.C. aka TheCombat KnifeThrower

Ram-bo, the Blade Aces Mascot

Why a mascot?

While watching a pro game on TV at a restaurant last week, I noticed something fascinating about the people around me.  For some bizarre reason, everyone was wearing the logos and colors of their favorite teams while watching the game.  They were avid fans. Passive participants, but their passion for the team was exemplified by their willingness to become associated with them through uniform colors and images. They became one with the players and even chanted phrases associated specifically with the sport or that team.  They defended the honor of their teams. They cheered and cried for their teams.  In fact, they were in love with their teams. It was mesmerizing.  It was something that our sport desperately needed.

The uniform makes a difference.  All professional sports have a uniform look.  Football has jerseys.  Basketball has tank tops.  And hockey has really long jerseys.  Even volleyball has a distinct uniform that sets them apart from other sports.  All professional sports have a distinct look. But what does knife & axe throwing have?  Plaid shirts and beards?  Circus-stripe tights and handlebar mustaches?  Or cowboy hats and boots?  What is an official, distinctive look for knife throwers?

The answer is none of the above.  This has never been established and therefore knife throwing is NOT considered a professional sport.  Why? Because our fans can’t be passive participants.  We have no official colors.  No official uniform.  Not even a mascot.

The Blade Aces organization’s mission is to make knife & ax throwing a professional sport that is worthy of being included in the Olympic Games.  This is no small task.  The requirements for making a sport into an Olympic sport are lengthy.  And they have to be done by the numbers.  I’s dotted and t’s crossed.  Inclusion into the Olympic Games is for the very best sportsmen and women in the world.  There’s no denying that fact.  And in order to even be considered for that honor, a sport has to be operated by professionals for professionals.

Several knife throwers have proposed a collared polo shirt with team colors and logos. While others, such as Blade Aces Las Vegas uses an athletic, color-panel, t-shirt with Sport Fit fabrics due to the arid desert climate.  Therefore, shirts with short sleeves, such as polos and athletic tees are acceptable as long as they are clean and matching.

Long pants would be preferable especially since it would help deflect those errant bouncing blades.  Closed-toed athletic shoes are essential for traction and safety.  And ball caps would be acceptable wear especially when outdoors.  Special events such as the Texas State Knife and Tomahawk Championships in Huntsville, TX requires period clothing and would, therefore be an exception to the athletic wear rule.

Color choice would be completely up to the individual leagues and their members, such as the black and white color scheme of the Full Tang Clan. The eagle wings logo of the FTC with their personalized names gives them a polished, team appeal while keeping costs down.  Other leagues/clubs may choose to use more elaborate designs and fabrics, like the different team uniforms in the movie “Dodgeball”.  However, uniformity and personal branding for the league is the start of establishing a recognizable look for presenting the sport.

So when asking the initial question, “Why a mascot?”, one must acknowledge the fact that ALL professional teams and sports have a symbol that represents the virtues and qualities exemplified by the players and the organization.

Blade Aces has chosen Ram-bo, the bighorn black sheep.  This heavily muscled, hard-headed animal represents the edgy, rebellious nature of our organization. Just like other black sheep, we revel in our inclusive nature as we accept all styles of legitimate throwing and projectile sports in the hopes of establishing camaraderie and cohesiveness in these, otherwise, dangerous sports.  We’re different and we like it.  The animal is also reminiscent of the US Marine Corps bulldog, a symbol that represents several members of our Advisory Board.  Ram-bo carries a throwing knife, ax and archery bow.  He will later be shown carrying other indigenous weapons as they become integrated into our events.

The symbolism doesn’t stop there.   The colors used by Blade Aces are also very representative of our mission. The color black signifies professionalism and seriousness.  The color red stands for innovation and energy.  Silver stands for reflection and transparency.  And white stands for truth and clarity.  The Blade Aces Bad Asses Alliance or BABAA represents the black sheep of the throwing world whose power, strength and influence will propel the sport into the Olympics and into the public’s eye for what they truly are.  It is our identity and our brand. And we are bad ass to the bone!

Knife Throwing is for Bad Asses

Knife throwing is exciting.  And it should stay that way.  Just ask any person who walks through the gate of any knife throwing instructor’s backyard.

“So, why do you want to throw knives?”

“Because I think it’s so bad ass!” is the usual answer 90% of the time.

So why do we want to make it sound like we’re teaching them golf or tennis?  Why are so many knife throwing organizations so focused on making this sport into a white bread, homogenous, Mayberry activity?

If someone wants a good, fun, family sport, they learn how to play baseball, volleyball or badminton.  But when they want to learn something risky and exciting, they learn how to ride motorcycles, hang glide or play hockey.

And then there’s knife throwing.  Yes, only the real adventurous thrill seekers who have a proclivity for pointy objects want to throw knives and axes.  Not the soccer families.  Or the baseball crowd.  Just the pointy objects crowd.

The origins of knife throwing are combative in nature.  Like the javelin throw, archery and target shooting, all projectile sports have their origins in hunting and warfare.  They were once the most important skills a hunter could have in order to provide for his family.  But today’s society no longer needs to hunt in the wild.  They hunt in the grocery aisles.  Not for game animals, but for deals and discounts.  The old skills have been forgotten.  Needless to say, modern man would die if left out in the wilderness to fend for himself.  If you don’t believe me, just watch an episode of Survivor or Man vs Wild on TV.  It’s pretty sad.

So why do we want to pretend that knife throwing and other projectile sports have no combative and hunting origins? Is it to make it popular in mainstream society?  Apparently, that’s the delusion.   But in today’s weapon-averse society, the mere mention of knives creates visions of maniacs running amok in the streets stabbing people.  So how do we attract people to join our sport if they are so sensitive to the mere mention of throwing knives?

Through education and honesty.

First of all, we don’t throw at living things much like sport archers don’t shoot at live animals.  And secondly, although we practice extreme safety when practicing and competing, there will always be untrained, uneducated people who get injured when throwing knives.  Not because knife throwing is so dangerous.  But because the throwers were not trained properly!  It’s like learning how to drive a car by yourself.  You may be able to get it out of the driveway, but once you’re on the city streets with other drivers, you’re probably going to cause an accident sooner or later.  Not for lack of trying.  But because no one ever really taught you the rules of the road.

Knife and ax throwing is a fun sport and anyone regardless of size, age, gender or disability can learn to become very good at it with enough practice and proper coaching.  But it’s also an adrenaline rush and a thrill to throw knives and axes like in the movies.  It can be dangerous if done incorrectly and like any sport, there is a risk of injury.  But there’s a higher chance of your son breaking his arm or leg in football than getting accidentally stabbed with a knife in our sport.  It’s relatively inexpensive and your abilities can only grow stronger with practice.

It’s a sport that appeals to a certain demographic and that’s who we need to focus on.  It’s the adventurous, pointy objects crowd.  It doesn’t mean we can’t attract other people to our sport.  But as water seeks its own level, we need to appeal MORE to those who find us most appealing.  And it’s not going to happen if we continue to pretend we’re something we’re not.

Knife and axe throwing is an exciting sport because it evokes fantasies of the hunt and epic combats in the field of battle.  It makes us feel like ninjas, cowboys, and Vikings.  It makes us wonder how it was back when humans had to hunt for food and defend their lands from invaders. And when that knife or axe solidly strikes a wooden target in the bullseye, it makes us experience what it means to be a bad ass!

TJ Cuenca


The Benefits of a Solid Organization

The Benefits of a Solid Organization – by TJ Cuenca

A successful organization is more than just having a catchy name, or business plan or even champions leading the charge.  A successful organization needs to have a solid foundation that is designed with expansion and growth in mind.  It needs to have dreamers who propose ideas, creators who carefully design the structures, workers who make things happen, administrators who make sure things are done according to plan and investors who fund future projects.

If any of these elements are lacking, there is no growth and the foundation of the organization will be unable to stand, much like a  concrete building built over a sinkhole.  As anyone who is familiar with sinkholes knows, it is an underground cavern filled with water.  It is capable of supporting structures aboveground as long as the water remains in the cavern.  However, residents in the building and other surrounding structures often use up all the water and the cavern roof is no longer capable of holding up the weight from the structures above. Eventually, it will collapse.  And with it, the structures above. This can be the result of overdependence on a single source of income or individuals to sustain its organizational integrity.  An organization must be able to stand on its own by empowering its component parts to become self-sustaining and with multiple streams of income sources from its inception and in that way, become foundationally sound.

As M. Shawn Covey said, “An empowered organization is one in which each individual has the knowledge, skill, desire and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success.”  This can only happen if multiple, local branches of the organization contribute to the organization.  Membership dues are collected annually. Sponsorships and advertisers are encouraged to support local athletes and leagues.  General media and social media are used regularly to promote awareness of the organization’s goals and activities. And membership drives bring in more new members on a regular basis.

All successful sports organizations started as backyard sports played by locals in a dirt field.  From baseball to basketball, the world of organized sports had their origins in grit and sweat; fighting their way to a respectable level of recognition through perseverance and member support.  However, the level of effort it takes to reach an even higher level of success will be double what it took to reach that initial level of success.  And it takes quadruple the amount of work and effort to reach the level above that.  Most organizations are quite content to rest on their laurels or are afraid to extend past their comfort zones.  This mentality is not conducive to growth.  It takes more than just individual resilience to become a worldwide phenomenon.

Using the analogy of bodybuilding, every serious bodybuilder hits a plateau where they no longer experience any gains.  Despite increased effort and caloric intake, they can’t get past the plateau stage by “doing what they’ve always done”.  Muscles adapt quickly to repetition and unless something new happens, it becomes stagnant and dormant.  The only way to succeed past the plateau stage is to change the routine and use new methods to stimulate the old muscles.  Without new stimulation, the body will fail to grow and the discontent may even cause the bodybuilder to abandon training and thereby prompting disuse atrophy.  But excessive stimulation can also lead to injury, which can further complicate matters.  So simply changing the routine may also fail.  Novel and disciplined stimulation must be applied incrementally and with purpose.  Without the proper mindset, discipline, and training habits, all repetitive training leads to plateaus.  And without a solid foundation of ingrained habits, it will eventually lead to failure.  Only experience and coaching will create the impetus to blow past the plateau without injury.

Our sport needs an organization that is focused on making the main thing the main thing.  Our sport needs an organization that is able to sustain itself without relying on just one or two sources of income to fund its programs.  It needs to attract new blood, maintain current members, bring in huge crowds and entice sponsors to support the sport.

Blade is such an organization. Built on the premise that in order to have a solid organization we must start with experienced, capable leaders, who have experience in organizing competitions, have solid business acumen, understand the rules of competition, and are able to effectively communicate with its members. Where members are rewarded for participation and victory in tangible ways, motivated to become the very best they can be, and encouraged to reciprocate with the organization by helping other members and the world community.  Blade Aces’ leadership have competed all over the world from the US, Canada, England, France, Italy, and Hungary.  Melody Joy Cuenca, Blade Aces’ co-founder is an 11-time world champion and the only person in the world that is actively on the Board of Directors of the two largest knife throwing organizations in the world (IKTHOF and Eurothrowers).  Several of Blade Aces’ founding members are world champions in the IKTHOF and Eurothrowers as well as No Spin and Mountainman competitions.   In fact, the leaders of Blade Aces have the strongest credentials for accomplishing the task of becoming the foremost professional precision projectile sports organization in the world.  Not simply because of their experience in knife and axe throwing. But also for their business, media and social networking skills.

In spite of all this, an organization is nothing without its members.  Without active, enthusiastic members, even the strongest led organization won’t stand.  The members must be willing, ready and able to participate in promoting the sport and in competitions.  They must love the sport and rest in the knowledge that their leaders care about supporting them and building the sport.  Only then can we become a solid organization.  Only then can we hope to show our talent to the world in the Olympics and beyond!


Cash Prizes Attract Competitors

Cash Prizes Attract Competitors by Robert Huber (May 8, 2017)

It costs money to participate in tournaments.  Beyond the entry fees, the costs of competing in another city or town can run high.  The financial burden of attending a tournament is probably the top reason people don’t attend.  Most throwing events now include a professional division that offers cash prizes and an amateur division that does not.  Better rewards provide stronger incentives for people to set higher, personal and professional goals.  Cash prizes will inevitably provide more throwers of a higher caliber to the pro and amateur divisions.

Cash prizes are a positive, next step for the whole throwing community.  When a club or individual decides to hold a tournament, the greatest hurdle to overcome is attendance.  Prizes are an inducement to attract competitors, and they must be attractive enough to draw in the most people.  If people are inspired to compete for a prize, then they will want to win the best prize possible.  Money is about as attractive as it gets.

The definition of a prize is “something worth gaining through an effort.”  Those efforts would include practicing, training and spending money.  Knives, targets, travel, hotels and tournament fees are but some of the costs to be covered if one wishes to seriously compete.  Time must also be invested for training and competing, a valuable commodity indeed.  Trophies, plaques and prizes may be attractive to people who enjoy competing and have some disposable time and income for travel and entertainment.  Cash prizes would be a further incentive for those competitors, but others may need to offset their costs before they can justify attending a tournament.

Most people don’t put a high monetary value on trophies and prizes.  Trophies and plaques are unsellable.  Prize knives and hawks are often fully functional presentation models, but are usually single items – not even a set.  Not many people will spend high dollars for a knife they would not throw regularly, if at all.  Even if someone decides to try selling off their prize collection, it’s just more time and effort to recoup some costs.  Prizes and trophies are fine inducements and provide for fine memories, but they look a lot better when they come with a 3- to 4-figure check!  And let’s face it, even the super bowl ring and Stanley cup come with big, fat monetary ‘bonuses’.

Competitors who spend money and time honing the skills to compete professionally deserve to be well compensated when they win.  Winnings not only offsets costs, they are a way to keep score.  The greater the value of the prizes, the more successful the competitor is considered.  Pro football, bowling, poker, and other professional players are rated by their earnings or the values of their contracts.  This is how cash prizes can inspire someone to go from a hobby to an amateur to a professional.  A sport I’m competitive in looks pretty attractive when I can devote time and money to train, travel and compete, with the potential of turning a profit.

Better competitors and larger, well organized pro tournaments will appeal to viewers and increase public fascination for the sport.  Once a sport attracts a fan base, it will draw in more money through sponsorships and advertisers.  More money could mean paid, trained scorers and range masters.

A paid range crew would considerably streamline the tournament process.  Volunteers wouldn’t have to be found and rotate in and out of the competition.  People wouldn’t have to learn while they’re scoring.  A professional staff would also project a professional atmosphere to the viewers.  Sponsorship and advertising money can also be used to replace targets when they wear out, making scoring even easier.  An influx in revenue can also provide for larger purses; the prizes would be larger, and maybe more places could eventually be paid out.

Tournament hosts, throwers and the throwing community need all the exposure we can get.  Awarding cash prizes can provide an avenue to expand the sport in scope and expertise.  Attracting an audience will eventually increase interest to a level where people with money to invest will help us promote the sport.  Wouldn’t fresh targets be nice for the Gold Cup and Conventional finals? Don’t forget, competitors can also attract sponsors.  I would love to have 3-4 businesses pay for my hawk handles, training targets, travel and tournament entries.

Bob Huber

The Lowdown on Throwdowns

The Lowdown on Throwdowns by Pete Bonkemeyer (April 26, 2017)

Given the current state of the sport, hosting an official IKTHOF Association event can be a daunting task. Of 480 or so members, far fewer than half regularly attend events. Many of those can only afford attendance at one or two events a year; like me, living on disability. Only three dozen or so members have the time, resources and commitment to throw in more than two. That leaves a very limited pool of possible paying attendees.

Mike Bainton’s event in Austin draws the most throwers, and for good reason. He’s the granddaddy of organized knife throwing and a charismatic man, along with his sidekick and emcee, Jack Dagger. The South Austin Karate venue in October is a good one and those guys do it up right. Legends fill the lanes. Yet, if that venue were not already in place, the proposition of a large scale, world championship-type event would be an expensive undertaking, especially now that pro really means pro.

On the other hand, the Austin setup is not conducive to spectators, especially not paying ones. A hundred contestants and some staff and family left little room for such this past October.

The Cuenca Superhero Foundry crew does an equally fine job in April every year, but the indoor venue is cramped, with little space for practice or for spectators. TJ and Melody are young and innovative, though. They represent the future of the sport, if it is to have a professional future. Those superheroes in Vegas will work it out.

And again, at least that venue is in place.

Other events include the Texas State Championship in March, the Canadian Championship in June, the new Georgia Regionals hosted by the charming Tracy Tenny in February.

The Instinctive Throwers held their Red River event, hosted by Michael Buzbee and friends in North Texas, in March. Not sure if there will be a repeat at this point. Pat Minter has his throwdown in Hawkins, TX, in March. Cliff Hill has a mountain man throw down in central Texas in early Dec.

If you live in Texas, Average Joe, you can make more than two throws a year, but not anywhere else.

Joe Darrah has his AKTA Brokenfeather Palooza in Pennsylvania in May. Chill Bill Lagrasso has a mountain man birthday party throw in Big Bear in July, but the powers that be say the results don’t count because Bill does it Bill’s way and as far as I know, no IKTHOF board member has been present.

From what I hear, the throwers who attend come to have a good time and beat the July heat. I don’t think they’ll lose any sleep over it, especially Bill. They don’t call him Chill for nothing.

I’ll be checking that one out in person this year.

Anybody want to sponsor me?


See? You must be on it all the time.

Like Quicksilver Cuenca.

The Minutemen have had a couple of throws in Boston and upstate New York in September, but not this year. The High Desert Throwers of NM will try to have a throw in September, instead, if two of us live that long, but that’s mighty close timewise to the big event in Austin and Socorro is a long way from anywhere, even Tucumcari.

The Eurothrowers have championships, too, usually in late August, and in cool places like Sherwood Forest and Prague and Hungary. Some noteworthy Americans have attended, like Rick the Rocket Lemberg, the Cuencas, the Boobinators Eisenberg, Richard Bullseye Wesson, John Grabowski and Joe Brokenfeather Darrah.

All acquitted themselves well.

A few Eurothrowers show up in Austin or even Vegas every year, like Mikhail Sedyshev, Werner Lengmueller, Richard Sunderland, Mike Munkhbold and Adam Celadin. The best Gold Cup Tomahawk match I have personally witnessed was between Werner and Hillbilly Pearl in 2014.

The Canadians show up every year, led by Ward Hightower Wright. Blade throwing sports are thriving in Canada. Just ask Bo Tait, who has a fine facility and will probably host a throw in the very near future.

The Russians were well represented last year and one year an Indonesian contingent showed up.

Rick the Rocket has friends in that part of the world, but man, he’s even got friends in outer space.

And if you’ve never seen Blind Lee Fugatt throw, then you’ve missed something special.

More reasons why Austin is so popular, and could easily be more so in the future.

But they might need a new venue, which won’t be easy.

Not much of a calendar left from which to choose a date, after all that, and every Average Joe’s resources are scarce, whether as host or attendee.

Consequently, if you talk to anybody who has ever hosted an organized throw, they will tell you a break-even proposition is about the best you can expect.

The smaller events are lucky to draw 25 paying entrants. That barely covers materials, certificates and awards, if that, much less anything like event insurance, pro cash prizes, cool bling, or a banquet or a cookout.

Unfortunately, though I repeat myself, that’s the current state of the sport.

Discouraged, now, are you?

Don’t be, at least not totally. ‘The times they are a-changing.’

While they are, think about these ideas on how to establish a successful throwing club and put on a break-even event. If you start now, you’ll be ready when the sport of blade throwing levels up.

Notice I mention “successful throwing club” first. You can’t put on a good event without support from a local club unless you’re famous, and even that is no guarantee.

I think Pat Minter would testify to that, though he’d claim he isn’t famous, just misunderstood.

And no, reader, you’re not famous, so forget it. A lot of stars out there, in this age of social media, but few of high magnitude, and fewer still prone to wander.

You’ll need help from local brothers and sisters of the knife to put on a show. If we want blade throwing to be recognized as legitimate, organized and worthy of sponsorship, we need to grow and promote the sport at a grass roots level. I know without asking that this is supposed to be an intrinsic and very important duty of every IKTHOF member.

You, Average Joe Thrower, and your members, whether IKTHOF, AKTA, or none of the above, must be seriously committed, willing and able to work to build a club, organize an event, and do it all right.

Or you can just hang in the backyard and throw by yourself or with your beer drinking buddies. I won’t judge you either way.

Only if you decide to do it and then do it half-assed.

As I learned from champion Christopher Miller, the first step in organizing an official club is to apply for an Employer Identification Number, EIN. The process takes about 3 minutes at the IRS website. Here is the link.

Just follow directions. Once the IRS generates an EIN for you, print out the page, which will show the name of your club and your EIN. With an EIN, you can accept donations from individuals and corporate entities, which are then tax deductible for the donor.

As long as you generate less than $5000 in yearly gross receipts, you do not have to file an IRS form 1023 or 1024 to start an official not-for-profit club, yet you can still claim to be an officially recognized non-profit organization. You’ll need to file a form 990N every year at tax time, though, which requires no itemization of income or expenditures.

Make sure you keep good records, anyway, including the value of donated supplies and materials.

If you generate more than $5000, you will want to start a 501c3 charity with a form 1023.

If asked what service your club provides, just say you are promoting your community’s overall health and social welfare, or team up with a local charity and donate any excess funds, which you can then write off yourself.

I recommend this process for all clubs, whether an event is organized or not. Next, study up on all the IKTHOF Rules and Standard Operating Procedures. If you want your scores to be IKTHOF official, you must follow the rules.

If you want to make up your own and do your own thing, more power to you, but you better have cash. Event insurance is expensive.

So, now that you have an official club, what comes next in planning a throwdown?


Sure, you can host a throw in your backyard, but if participants pay the usual event entry fee, they will expect the same facilities and amenities to which they are accustomed at other events, like Austin, or Vegas, or Ontario.

Talk to your local government’s Activity Director, or Tourism Director, or Recreation Director. Tell them you are covered under the IKTHOF event insurance umbrella. If your throw is official, IKTHOF’s event insurance will cover you. Also, ask if you can hold your event at a city park or other facility. Ask if the city can help financially, or work in partnership with you, or cover you under their event insurance if your throw is not official. Make it something people will want to come watch, so you can recruit new members. You might even offer lessons at your event, say $5 for 30 minutes for youth and $10 for adults. Just make sure they sign a waiver first.

Go to your Chamber of Commerce and see if they will help. Most small towns are hungry for tourism dollars and other ways of increasing community revenue.

Visit local fraternal organizations, like the DAV, Rotary Club, American Cancer Society, etc. Donations of funds and prizes can help garner community interest and support and generate more revenue.

Choose a specific charity to support with any excess funds you might generate, like the Superhero Foundry does with the Semper Fi fund, then ask them for promotional materials, help, whatever. You might be pleasantly surprised at the support you will receive, not least in terms of labor. For instance, have the DAV or Foreign Legion raffle off a set of knives, or hawks or something.

Many knife makers are generous with donated blades for prizes and auctions, just ask around.

We did our first throw in NM with just two target walls, alternating between the two lanes for the championships. For practice and lessons, we had a few cottonwood rounds on tripods. We made portable backboard walls and set up across from the plaza during our city’s annual Socorrofest.

The belly dancers were groovy, but they wouldn’t pose for silhouette throwing.

A fair crowd watched us, though most of the participants were from Talon’s NMT throwing club with the addition of Roger Jals and Clifford Payne, who, of course, are the current NM state record holders in knife and hawk. Cliff and Rog taught lessons until 10 pm, which generated an extra $100 or so.

To build a portable wall, divide it into three equal panels, each with its own frame, which are then bolted together. Add a 10 ft long 2×4 skid on each end of the wall, each skid supported by two more 2x4s, each of those attached to opposite ends of the skid and to the outside top corner of the outside panel frames.

These portable walls work great, can be assembled or disassembled in 30 minutes, can be easily stored in a shed and re-used many times.

Visit your local building supply and/or hardware business, too. The Superhero Foundry had material sponsorship from Home Depot for the US Nationals. Hit one place for lumber, one for hardware, maybe another for paint. Raid the scrap bins at construction sites. Ask for old pallets at loading docks. Beg for culls and bitter ends at wood yards.

Lumber is a huge expense. $1200-$1500 worth for 5 walls, 15 targets, and two spares.

Go to the high school wood shop and ask if they can help construct targets or if the metal shop can cut out blanks for knifemaking.

You’ll probably recruit a thrower or two in the process.

Or try a machine shop. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.

Much less expensive to make your own blades from blanks for prizes. Bar stock is cheap. So is child labor.

Accept whatever people are willing to give you. Maybe your local grocer can donate water or energy drinks. Maybe some restaurant can donate gift certificates. You can give out some cool stuff for early registrations or auction off the toaster Bill’s Ace Hardware gave you.

Or you can take two tin pails, spray paint them, then fill them with whatever items have been donated.

There’s your Gold Cup prizes.

Certificates and awards are surprisingly expensive and you’ll need a bunch; more than 30. If you expect fewer than 25 throwers, consider lumping all amateur divisions into just one general amateur division.

For our throw in September, we will ask the local college’s printing office to help us out. They have a community outreach program, of which we hope to take advantage.

Try contacting all local media outlets; tv, radio, newspaper. Monster Energy saw a news piece about the Vegas event and showed up with cases and cases of energy drinks, then took pictures of us drinking their products.

That’s all it took. And that’s what it takes to grow a sport.

Our local paper has done a story or two about us and I’ve been interviewed on the radio twice. It’s not much, but more people talk to me in town now than they ever did before.

Or maybe that’s because I’m so darn good looking.

Resources are out there. Just be creative and don’t be shy about asking for what you need. Or want.

And be a bro. Share effective ideas with other event organizers.

Cottonwood Bob thinks we could do a combined throw with the Full Tang Clan and others via live, IKTHOF board member moderated broadcasts on any of a dozen live streaming services. Might be worth a test run.

Not sure how that would fly with some folks, but I like it. We could form a league.

What say you, Average Joe Thrower?


Well… Good luck to all you competitive throwers and backyard range rats. May your aim always be as true as your motive.


See you around,


Tinker Pete