How To Backyard Pit Design

Discussion in 'Throwing Knives & Knife Throwing' started by Dan Davies, May 27, 2020.

  1. Dan Davies

    Dan Davies

    May 27, 2020
    My daughter is interested in learning to throw knives, so I want to support her. Keep in mind that my only experience or knowledge is that I have seen this in movies.

    She would like to be able to practice in our yard, but my wife is concerned with safety. We have a small-to-medium suburban backyard and my wife is concerned with a stray knife skewering a neighbour's kid or dog. So I am looking for information on setting up a safe throwing pit (if that is the term) for a beginner. I have tried searching and I can find target design, but nothing on shields, backing or general safety precautions.

    I am asking for advice or directions to a website that could give guidance on these issues.

  2. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    It is a valid concern. I have thrown knives and hawks, and axes for decades. I have had to retrieve them from the neighbors yard occasionally. I had a rule, of never throwing while the neighbor was outside in the back yard. Never had any problems.

    One time a hawk went sideways into the corner neighbors yard.. he used to sit on his back porch and watch me throw. I walked around the block to his house, and knocked on his door. Told his daughter I needed to retrieve a toy from their back yard. From inside the house I heard the dad laugh, and ask "knife or tomahawk?"
    Dan Davies likes this.
  3. zzyzzogeton


    Feb 17, 2013
    For a shield, many folks use a sheet of plywood as a a backstop. You can also split a sheet and put a half on either side at a 45º angle to catch many of the side bounces. The very paranoid add a small (2ft x 4ft) sheet of plywood horizontal at the top. If you put the side pieces at a 90º, you end up make a box around the target and prevent almost all the bounce outs that may try to go over the fence.

    Since you are in a small/medium backyard, she won't be trying to throw 5 spin 40 ft throws. All distance are approximate - they are roughly round figures of what my distances are. 1/2 spin starts around 6-1/2 feet, 1 spin about 10.5 feet, 1-1/2 spin about 15 ft, 2 spin about 21 feet. So if you have 30 feet, you have 3 to 4 feet for a target, 23 to 24 feet for up to 2 spin with clearance for a knife or tomahawk in backwards extension, an then a couple of feet to spare. The smallest back yard I ever had had at least 50 feet in one direction.

    If you have her start at the half-spin distance and she practices to the point she sticks 90% routinely, and then moves back to 1 spin and repeat for 1-1/2 and 2 spin, you won't have to worry about the neighbors of the knives/hawks going over the fence.

    Now, personally, I would make the backstop 8 feet wide (2 sheets of plywood) and have 3 2ft x 2ft IKTHOF end-grain targets, throwing 1 knife at each target to reduce knife damage, and practice for competition. She will have a blast. I also predict that you and your wife will get involved as well.

    The family that throws together stays together. :D:D:D
    Dan Davies likes this.
  4. Dan Davies

    Dan Davies

    May 27, 2020
    Thank you to both posters who replied! You have given me very good information, particularly the cautions and guidance on design. If I am able to get this built I will try to post a picture as further thanks!
  5. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    In my folks back yard, I would throw from as far as 60'

    Another tip I would give......hawks are much easier to consistently stick than knives, in my experience.

    I have taught groups of 200 kids to throw (an all day camp, where each kid rotated through in groups). Archery, rifle, hawk throwing.

    Our of approximately 200 kids, I think there was only a single kid who did not get a stick in his rotation through.

    Most get consistent results pretty close.

    Cold Steel makes cost effective, tough throwing hawks.

    Just make sure you remove the set screw before throwing. It allows bad handle hits to be absorbed as the head just slides down.

    Hawks, especially with a horn/point like cold steel's norse hawk are one of my favorites.

    A thrower can also rotate the bit forward facing or rear facing to get more sticking distances.

    Ive had handles last for years with no set screw.

    With the set screw installed I have split new handles in a single hit.

    Cold steel also makes tbrowing knives.

    The largest heaviest is always what I recommend.

    They rotate the slowest, and are easier to throw than lighter knives.

    There is also different techniques in knife throwing from spin to no spin 1/4 spin 1/2 spin, etc. Full spin.

    For me, no spin (1/4 spin is only good out to about 12-14 feet) but I've thrown traditional spin for .ych longer, and did not spend too much time practicing no spin.


    I have a a handful of old throwing vids on imgur, but bladeforums is only letting me insert images from imgur for some reason.
    Last edited: May 28, 2020
  6. BitingSarcasm


    Feb 25, 2014
    I have been teaching my boys to throw knives and hawks and calling it "PE" though I doubt the school district would approve. The rule of thumb that I have been using with them is that 1 foot of distance per 1 oz of weight thrown is the minimum safe distance. Bounces can go surprisingly far in completely random directions. I also always make them wear eye protection, just in case. And speaking of safe distance, novice throwers young and old will occasionally release the knife as they wind up, so directly behind the thrower is not safe for anything breakable or that can be punctured.

    To catch errant throws, you don't necessarily need to go super aggressive with a wood backstop. Knock together a frame and screw down a couple of cheap Harbor Freight moving blankets on the top only. When they are draped and not taut, they will absorb the force of the throw. Something razor sharp with a skeleton hilt might go through, but with a typical beginner's throwing knife that's not really going to be an issue.

    Look over the ground all around your target, too. Rocks and bricks have an almost magical ability to attract a bounced knife, and they do an inordinate amount of damage. If there is a prized plant or water sprinkler, tossing a bucket over it will spare you the trouble of replacing it.
  7. thebrain


    Dec 12, 2007
    If you look at the Axe throwing establishments of recent times the build a hallway of sorts out of chain link fence. I would suggest trying something like that, maybe a pre-made dog kennel stood upright to give a roof and walls of knife proof fence. Of course a sheet of treated plywood for a backstop and sturdy target of 2×6 sprayed down with water before and during throwing to help soften the wood and help knives to stick.

Share This Page