Targets for knife throwing

see also (external link / new window)Sticking Point, (external link / new window), (external link / new window)Thrower, or (external link / new window)Throwzini (many pictures)

Very sturdy frame to hold tree rounds as knife throwing target.
  • Trees are not a target! You would wound and eventually kill them.
  • Take care that you have a clear view of your surroundings. You should be able to see freely at least 10m in each direction, so that you notice immediately if someone enters the dangerous throwing area. If you throw in front of walls, you have to know who is behind them (no one!). Sometime, a knife will fly over any wall. Corners are dangerous.
  • If the grass is higher than 10cm, you will loose your knife someday. It will dig itself in the ground, and will be in an area different from the one you are expecting it to be. (You could try using a metal detector, dowsing rod, or (external link / new window)magnets to find it.)
  • To make for an easy stick, the grain of the wood should be running vertically (not from left to right), since the knives spin vertically. Thus, the wood opens up for the knife.

Planks make the best target, the thicker the better. 4 centimetres are the minimum, or else you will have to replace the target constantly, and will not be able to turn it round to (ab)use the unbattered side. The wood used for the construction of railway tracks will make the best target you can think of. Simply mount the planks on some (wooden) rack and rest them against a tree or a pole. (Take some rope to make sure it wont fall on the impact of the knives.) The target should stretch from the ground to about 25cm above your eye level and be at least 1m wide. You may use cheaper and thinner wood for the outer regions, they hopefully only have to catch stray throws. Be aware that thin planks that are not supported in the back will act as a trampoline and spring back the knives right towards yourself.

Of course you can use multiple round tree slices (mounted on a rack, again), those wont insist on the knives arriving vertically. A drawback is that your thrower may fly through the holes between the slices. Do avoid wood of leafed trees, it tends to "throw back". Fir is better. Leave your target out in the rain, knives do really stick better in soaked wood.

Trees do not make good targets for several reasons: They would get cuts in the process, through which diseases can enter the tree. No tree holds up to this very long. And the throwing knives will sometimes hit vertically, bending to follow the round form of the tree. No throwing knife will support this for very long, either, but brake. Due to the cylindrical surface of the targets, knives will bounce back wildly in every direction.

Some people made positive experience using targets out of multiple layers of cardboard, especially when throwing indoors. But remember that when throwing indoors, the knives bouncing back from the target are especially dangerous, as they might ricochet from the walls, and you have less room to get out of their way. The best thing here would be an empty garage completely lined with carpet.

knife throwing target of Rüdiger and Willi
This rather solid target has been constructed by Rüdiger and Willi from Bavaria. They explain how they built it:

"As there are two little children in the house (4 and 6 years of age), we have chosen to mount the target in a way that nobody can get behind it unnoticed while we are throwing.
From a do-it-yourself store, we got the metal mountings and matching timbers (4 mountings and 2 timbers à 3 meters). We bought raw timbers and planed them ourselves to fit the mountings, it is much cheaper that way. Then we cut the timbers in half and installed the zinced mountings in the ground with the help of concrete.
After the concrete was solid, we could screw the timbers to the mountings. Then we added two layers of planks: one layer of level planks, 3,5 cm think, was fastened to the timbers. Then a second layer, 5 cm thick, was attached to the first, this time vertical. The screws (6cm long) went in from the back of the target to prevent the knives from hitting them.
We still ponder if and how we should paint a bullseye on the target."

Template to quickly spray paint your target. Using spray paint and a template you can quickly colour your knife throwing target.

This knife and axe throwing target has been built by (external link / new window)Holger Wycisk for the (external link / new window)knife throwers competition in Herrischried, July 2010. The targets are tree rounds of white fir that had been cut 3 weeks before. The target holders were available in two flavours:

Extremely sturdy: Sturdy but still transportable:
Very sturdy frame to hold tree rounds as knife throwing target. Transportable frame, so that the knife throwing targets can be brought to any place. Just be sure to have some tree rounds there.

Frank Salonius, thank you very much for the photos marked with FS.

Why just built a target when you can design one? So, when (external link / new window)Matthew's fiancée mentioned she really would like to learn how to throw knives, he heeded the construction hints on this page, and made her a kick-ass spy knife throwing target.

His blog (external link / new window)Spy Throwing Knife Target has closeup photos of the setup, including one of the very sturdy ceiling mount. The free-swinging construction absorbs the impact of non-sticks, reducing bouncebacks to some extend. Still missing is the backstop (wood or carpet layers) behind the target that catches the throwing knives that go wide astray, and prevents them from breaking when they hit the concrete wall.

It's a pitty that after some days of serious throwing, so many wooden chips will have been hacked out of the target that the paint on the tree slices will all but have vanished.

Knife Throwing Target Spy style, by Matthew.

Quick change target for knife throwing. The planks will be mounted into this frame.

This is a target construction for knife throwing, where the wooden planks can be exchanged quickly. Jean even provided the construction blueprints including a list of parts.

Blueprint with list of parts

Heavy knives and axes are the favourite throwing toys of Roland Zwosta. That's why his throwing target is extra sturdy. The drawing and photos explain well how to construct the target. The tree-slice has a diameter of 55cm and a thickness of 40cm.

Material needed:
  • Square timber beams, 10 cm x 10 cm (Length: 2 x 158 cm, 2 x 168 cm, 2 x 105 cm)
  • Boards of wood, around 3 cm thick (2 x 90.5 cm for the sides, and 3 boards to connect the two sides; Length: around 5-8 cm shorter than the diameter of the tree slice - try a bit until the slice sits well)
  • Threaded bar (iron bar with winding, e.g. M10, to screw things on), 8 pieces of min. 25 cm each, and fitting 16 nuts and 16 fender washers (that's very broad washers - diameter 30mm - to attach the beams to the sides; smaller washers will disappear in the wood); Saw off the excess bar afterwards
  • 4 woodscrews 6 mm thick, 160 mm long (to join the beams at the top)
  • Some woodscrews 6mm thick, 80 mm long (to attach the boards)
Blueprint: Side- and rear-view:
Blueprint for the sturdy throwing target of Roland Zwosta.
  Knife throwing target of Roland Zwosta: side- and rear view.

There are (external link / new window)more photos of this target in the German forum.
Target by Yury Ershov with wooden blocks, well transportable.
Yury Ershov (student of Y. Fedin) built this target, which he says is common in Russia. The frame squeezes the blocks of wood together so that they fit tight. The boards on the sides and on top can be closed for transportation to keep the blocks in, and provide handy protections to deflect knives that miss the target. If one of the blocks breaks apart from use, it can be easily replaced. The target is made wet before throwing so that the knives stick better.

Winter indoor knife throwing target of Philippe Catania.
This is my "portable indoor knife throwing target" for the winter. It is quite simple. With the two screws you can fix the target plank between the two pieces of wood. The backstop is a pinboard. I can easily carry it around in my car, then simply put it on a table and start throwing!
I thought it would be more interesting to throw at a target where the points are not distributed circular around the bullseye (that is same number of points for each ring) but to make sections. Now I get less points if I score in the bottom, making me fight more against gravity. The target lines are simply drawn on a piece of paper that is covered with transparent tape to prevent it from tearing too much.

   Philippe Catania

Construction of the knife targets used in Pullman City 2005
These targets were used at the throwers meeting 2005 in Pullman City. They proved to be very robust constructions. The two side stilts were screwed to the target round, the third stilt rests snugly fixed between them. The two planks that connect the stilts on the ground make the construction much more resistant to twisting forces, prolonging the life of the target. (This method is even more effective than using wire to connect the stilts on the ground.) Please notice that the targets are tilted a few degrees backwards, thus with the help of the prolonged planks preventing the target to fall forward.
Knife throwing target as used at the European Championship in Nivnice.
The sport has progressed since then, and at big competitions it is now customary to have three target logs for each thrower, mounted on a sturdy backdrop. On the photo you see the construction that was used at the Big Throwers Meeting 2013 in Nivnice. Built just for the three days of the competition, so rather raw wood was used. The four pegs in the ground secure the target in place, at a championship you want your distances to be correct to the centimeter even after heavy throwing. The fine red cord you see crossing the stilts was used for a common alignment of all the targets.

Transportable knife throwing target in the snow.
(external link / new window)Some people just can't wait and have to throw even in freezing winters. Take a transportable target rest, pop two targets on top, and get throwing. With some well-placed axes, I guess you can set the top-target tumbling down.

Constructing a huge target from several smaller blocks.
Sometimes you just need a huge target, for example the European Knife Throwing Rules (external link / new window)mandate a 1m-circle for the long distance event. But, not in all regions such huge trees are readily available. For the European Championship 2010 in famously deforested Rome, Americo Sabato therefore assembled 9 small blocks into one huge target surface. The lower row rests on a bar that is screwed to the wall, each individual block is then fixed by several screws from behind.

Knife throwing target by Stefan Roeder. Using only some old wood, imagination and some iron, Stefan Roeder built a durable knife throwing target.

For his big cellar, (external link / new window)Martin Fischer constructed a target that is hanging from the ceiling on two big chains. On a backstop plank from soft poplar wood, four fir rounds are mounted. Because the target can swing freely, it absorbs the energy of the knives on impact, thus reducing rebounds. Target for knife throwing  constructed by Martin Fischer. It's hanging from the ceiling.

Knife throwing target of Peter Kramer, with balks from a hardware store.
A short explanation on my knife throwing target. Up to now, I did not mount it on a base, since it is very stable as it is, leaning against the wall of my garage. The square-shaped timber balks are from a hardware store, they are normally used to construct fences. They measure approximately 90mm x 90mm (about a typical 4 x 4, for you Americans). For a start, I glued them together under pressure, then screwed planks on vertically and on top and bottom. Rock-solid now.
Because the wood does not splinter easily, it should be good for quite some throws.
Price for the balks: 49 Euros.

   Peter Kramer

Axe throwing target by Mark Ringeling, Norway - Click for larger version

Markward Ringeling and his daughters are from Norway, and like to throw axes. Big axes from time to time. So their target had to be very sturdy, and it had to fit the rustic look of the surroundings.

The solution was again a tripod, made from birch log. It can support the sort of giant tree slices that hold up to axe impact. In this case the slice is cut from a Chilean pine that has grown very quickly - you can see the rings are quite far apart, making for a soft, stickable wood.

Construction was not done the rustic "we'll just nail it" way, but with careful planning - for details on how to build it you can consult the (external link / new window)blueprint plans.

Selfmade knife throwing target of Christof Weese.
My friends and I throw knives, hatchets and axes at this target. It first stood on an open field, erected for the occasion of our WildWest club meeting. Afterwards, we disassembled the structure and moved it to our club's area.
Above ground, the target has a height of 1,85m. The three supporting feet (diameter: 8-11cm, length: 2,6m) have been driven 40cm into the soil with a sledge hammer. On the top, where the three feet meet, three chipboard screws 6x190mm are screwed in a triangle.
The stiffeners between the feet are screwed on with chipboard screws 6x110mm. The stiffeners themselves were flattened using an axe to give them a better connection with the feet.
On the front, a board (length: 115cm, width: 50cm, thickness: 4cm) was screwed on with 6 chipboard screws (6x110mm). On top of this, you can screw on any tree round you like (coming from behind, using chipboard screws 6x150mm). My round has a diameter of 60cm and is 30cm thick.

   Christof Weese

knife throwing target of Jan
This is the home-grown target of Jan Behrens. It consists of a tiny packaging palette with some timbers nailed on top. Jan used an electric planer to make it all the same height, so now he has an even surface. The target is about 1m x 1m wide an quite heavy, it can easily absorb the impact from the knives. The only problem here is the missing backstop, so one really has to be careful as to who is in the garden. The glass house in the background has survived so far...

Knife throwing target sculpture by Bruce Reisner. Target sculpture by (external link / new window)Bruce Reisner.
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