The most enjoyable skills I taught myself were the practical abilities, especially the ones that make me feel stronger and more independent. They are like a character level-up. Many years ago I taught myself how to throw a tomahawk in real life (reflexively, in real-time), how to change a tire, make a bird trap, etc. I strove to become a reliable, competent man.
Let me take you to the summers of my childhood. Those three months were the absolute best, and I always spent a few weeks in the countryside. My grandfather had a big farm, in a village not too far away from the city.
There were tons of engaging activities I could do, during those summers. I would get up with the rooster crowing. I would dig ditches for watering the garden, gather fruit, do some yard-work. Occasionally, I created my own contraptions, among which: a tomahawk and a target panel.
That’s how a nerdy city-dweller learned how to throw a tomahawk in real life. Now, let me tell you how I did it. I will walk you through the whole process.
Just keep in mind (disclaimer): I am not a certified authority on this matter. I do things for fun and then I write about them, and I always stress responsibility and safety. Hence, I don’t hold myself responsible for any injuries or accidents that readers might sustain if they put theory into practice. I am responsible only for my actions, not for those of other people.
How to Create a Basic Tomahawk?
I was 18 years old. I figured I have the rest of my life in front of me, so why not waste time learning a completely useless but empowering new skill? I took a small axe-head and attached it to a short wooden handle. It was loose, so I had to drive a pin-spike to secure the axe-head. Ergonomics needed improvement, so I wrapped the handle with black duck-tape. The balance was poor but manageable.
Here are some important things to keep in mind if you want to make a throwing axe:
- Light, small axe-heads work best.
- Sharpen the bit (edge)! Even more, than you would normally do it.
- It is better to have an axe-head with a sharp and pointy bit (toe and heal of the axe).
- Pick a long, thin wooden handle.
- Make sure your handle is shock-resistant. (Ash, Beech, White Oak, etc).
- If you are a total newbie, don’t use a sharp throwing weapon. A dull edge will do!
How To Throw A Tomahawk In Real Life?
Let’s get straight to it! There is something very satisfying in hitting the target – by arrow, knife, or axe. Of these three, I think axe throwing is the hardest, but if you master the basic movements and poses – then you will escalate the learning curve quickly.
NOTE: I will use terms like “axe-throwing”. Don’t be confused! I’m still talking about tomahawks – because most throwable axes are tomahawks. Nobody will try to throw a felling / chopping axe or hatchet.
Here are the three basic techniques you need to master to effectively hit your center target with a flying axe: stance, grip, and throw.
Best Stance for Axe-Throwing?
This is the easiest part! Stand up straight, looking at the target which is directly in front of you (distance may vary, depending on your skill level).
Throwing a tomahawk involves a natural upwards arm motion. You hold the weapon in your dominant hand while keeping your arm close to your body (standing up, of course). Then, you throw the axe by raising your arm straight towards the target, pulling back, then whipping forward – releasing your grip midway.
If your stance is decent, and if you grip the tomahawk properly, then aim and timing will be decisive factors for scoring maximum points. There will be a later section on aiming and timing.
Basic stand position is the best stance for maximum flexibility and fluidity. It will give you maximum balance and freedom of movement to throw a tomahawk properly.
Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. You should face the target with your arms comfortably relaxed on both sides. That’s it!
How to Grip the Tomahawk Properly
Basically, you hold your tomahawk like you would a hammer! Grab the end of the handle, with the sharp bit pointing perpendicularly towards the ground. Here is a short visual demo:
Step 1. Stand up straight in front of your target. Raise your arm as if you are about to shake somebody’s hand. (Prepare for a firm handshake).
Step 2. Grab the tomahawk handle towards the tail. Maybe leave an inch or so. Fingers are under the handle, while your thumb goes over it and grips on the side. Your thumb is one side of the handle. But make sure it doesn’t go all the way down, and under. Otherwise, it may disrupt the perpendicular rotation plane.
Alternately, you may keep your thumb straight on the handle, slightly pushing down. This will move up the center of rotation – to decrease torque and reduce the number of rotations. This might mess up your throw and it’s not recommended for beginners! So, just keep your thumb on the side of the handle.
Step 3. Keep your arm in the handshake position and look at the axe-head. Is the edge pointing straight down towards the ground, at a 90-degree angle? Make sure it is! If your angle is slightly off, the tomahawk will wobble mid-air, which will mess up your aim.
The edge needs to align perfectly with the rotational plane, otherwise that plane shift increasingly every time the tomahawk revolves mid-air.
Step 4. While still holding the throwing axe, allow your arm to fall in its resting position, close to your body. But keep the 90-degree angle. Now the edge will point away from the target, while still maintaining that straight perpendicular line.
The axis of the handle should be positioned so that the blade is perpendicular to the target or else the tomahawk may wobble and revolve around its own axis.
Picture this! A straight, imaginary line needs to connect these three elements / objects: target, axe-spine, and edge. That way, the sharp bit will rotate in a plane perpendicular to the target – no offset or wobbling.
Basic Axe-Throwing Technique
With stance and grip out of the way, we need to focus on your throwing technique. With minimal practice, you will nail this part easily!
Remember! You will only use a lifting arm motion. Do not apply any kind of force or momentum through the wrist. That would be detrimental to your aim since it just adds another variable in the game. It’s not good for your wrist joint either!
Take proper stance and grip (explained earlier). Position yourself in front of the target, keeping your arms relaxed, close to your side. Again, make sure you grab the tomahawk the right way, regarding direction and angles (read above).
Following this detailed process to correct your stance and techniques and learn how to throw the tomahawk in real life:
Step 1. Begin from the stance position, when your arm is relaxed and close to your body.
Step 2. Rotate your arm back slightly (about 15-20 degree). This will increase the range of motion, for more leverage and momentum. Don’t flex your arm too much, just slightly – keep it relaxed!
Step 3. Raise / Rotate your arm forward forcefully (from shoulder), all the way up to shoulder level – and you can even go above it 10-degrees. Once you achieve this range of motion with your arm slightly flexed, you fluidly flex your elbow even more – up to a complete 90-degree angle. Now the axe-head is behind your head!
Step 4. Whip your arm forward. Use shoulder and elbow, not your wrist. Release the tomahawk when it feels right to you! I prefer letting go just as the hand is about to reach shoulder height again (on its way down).
Note: Steps 1 through 4 are fluid and streamline. You don’t pause in-between or break the sequence. Instead, you perform one single, fluid motion. So remember: Arm slightly back, then swing forward forcefully, then flex your elbow, bringing that axe above/behind your head. Finally, whip forward and release.
If you didn’t mess up the angle of rotation, and if you correctly timed your throwing-sequence and release, then you will land that tomahawk edge on the target!
Here is a short recap! Bring your arm back for momentum (about 15-degrees). Quickly raise your arm till slightly above shoulder height. Continue by flexing your elbow so that your hand is above the shoulder and the tomahawk is behind your head. Then whip forward and release the handle.
Repeat this motion until it gets smoother. Make it becomes your second nature, a reflex – but pay very close attention to every detail. Chuck it down, practice each chuck – then combine and master the whole thing. Start with a wooden stick and then move to a real tomahawk.
What Do You Need to Practice Throwing?
First things first, here are some of the things that you need for learning how to throw a tomahawk. This is what I recommend if you want to do it properly:
- Real tomahawk / Dummy stick.
- Solid boots.
- Eye protection.
Target and tomahawk are self-explanatory, but I always stress safety. When you put safety first, then you will take precautionary measures.
Only when you feel secure, will you allow yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and take more risks. That is the only way you are going to learn a new skill. I remember a quote from Wyatt Woodsmall (NLP): “Learning occurs at the edges of your comfort zone.”
Can I Throw Hatchets Instead of Tomahawks?
Some of you might be inclined to use a regular hatchet to hone your throwing skills. Why not save some money before investing in a tactical tomahawk?
That’s what I did! However, because hatchets are heavy and unfit for throwing, you will have trouble learning the skill. Worse even, you will learn it incorrectly, which means you will have to waste time unlearning it. You may even damage or break your hatchets.
A tomahawk is a lightweight throwing weapon, specifically designed for that purpose. It eases the learning process and allows you to quickly master the art of throwing.
Which Is the Best Target?
In theory, there are multiple options for a target. You can practice on a dead tree trunk, a wood stump or even an old furniture table.
1. The dead trunk is the worst target – too narrow and curbed. Most of the times you will miss it completely. If you do manage to strike it, the curved surface will deflect your weapon. Other than that, you probably won’t find a dead tree unless you live out in the woods – But that is no excuse to torture an innocent tree! Try the next options…
2. If you use a furniture table, make sure it is at least 1-inch thick. It needs to absorb the shock without splitting apart. If you can find a decent tabletop, it would make a perfect target.
3. That brings us to the chopped, wooden stump. It should be properly seasoned for a couple of months – to allow the axe-head to sink deep. Place the trunk vertically about 1 meter (3 ft) above ground. You can place it even higher.
I suggest you get a stump that is 4-inches thick (at least). Put that stump about 3-5 feet above ground using a tripod or support. Orient it perpendicularly, so that you can hit the soft, round face. You can even paint a bull’s eye on it. Get ready to practice!
How to Throw Safely?
While learning how to throw a tomahawk in real life, you need to make safety your primary concern. Your safety, that of others, and the environment. Here are a bunch of precautionary measures I consider most important:
1 – Make sure the target is secured and tight.
2 – Area is cleared. Nobody is around, close or behind the target. Left and right, there should be a free space of 5-6 m (18-20 ft). Make sure nobody is present within that perimeter. Especially make sure there isn’t anybody behind it, working or walking around!
3 – Don’t throw at animals, buildings or vehicles.
4 – If you are a beginner, a sharp edge is more of a liability than a perk. Better practice with a dull weapon.
5 – Wear eye protection and boots for personal safety.
6 – Stand at a safe distance away from the target. At least 5-6 meters (18-20 feet).
Is Protective Gear Important When Throwing?
When learning how to throw a tomahawk in real life, safety is the prime concern. A poorly executed throw can veer the axe off in any direction, including yours. Here are the basic safety measures for beginners. Use the following protective gear:
Solid Boots. Your feet are most vulnerable to self-induced accidents, because most likely that flying axe will rebound straight down, somewhere in front of the target (hopefully not your feet). When that happens, you don’t want to be anywhere near it.
And if by any chance you do get hit, a solid pair of military boots will absorb the damage.
Protective Goggles. This precautionary measure greatly depends on your distance from the target. Eyes are the most vulnerable, exposed body part, so we always want to wear eye protection, even if the risk of injury is minimal.
I can’t tell you how many times I had to rush my father to the emergency ward, simply because he didn’t protect his face when working outside. Luckily, nothing serious ever happened! Anyways, when that sharp edge strikes a nearby object, a broken chip might jump off, and we don’t take any risks.
Learning how to throw a tomahawk in real life is an amazing skill. Few people can brag about it! It sets you apart straight away! The more combat skills you know, the more confident you feel. Competence means confidence, and good outdoor survival skills are the hallmark of a strong, well-adjusted man.
Axe-throwing is easy to master if you can efficiently chunk it down. There is a proper stance, a carefully calculated grip, and well-synchronized throwing technique. Make sure your angles are correct. Don’t underestimate timing!
As always, safety comes first, so don’t let me catch you in one of those YouTube FAIL videos. I hope this post was helpful. Please keep me up-to-date with your tomahawk-throwing techniques!