Tomahawk Basics

Made popular by Native Americans, the tomahawk, also referred to as simply a hawk, entered the scene in the 17th century.  Used as a hand-to-hand or thrown weapon, it was originally modeled after a Royal Navy boarding axe.  Today, the tomahawk is as present as ever and tomahawk throwing has become a popular sport.  In light of this, here is an overview of tomahawk throwing technique.


Before handling a tomahawk, here’s a little information to enlighten you on the weapon you are using.  The average tomahawk has a handle anywhere from 14-20 inches long with a blade up to 4 inches long at the cutting edge.  This axe has a typical weight of a ½ pound to 3 pounds with a common throwing hawk usually weighing a little less than 2 pounds.  In selecting a hawk, a forged blade is recommended for its ease of sharpening and durability in withstanding a lot of action without breaking.  When it comes to handles, the sides should be thinner to help in grasping and holding the hawk straight.  The handle should also be tapered to a certain degree.  You should be prepared to adjust the handle from time to time, as the blade tends to slip down the handle after striking a target.

Tomahawk With Wood Handle:

Tomahawk With Wood Handle

After selecting the right hawk, it is time to get in a proper stance.  You should stand with your feet side by side.  Weight should be shifted to the right foot for right-handed throwers and to the left foot for left-handed throwers.  When you swing with the throwing arm, step forward with either the left or right leg, depending on what is most comfortable.  This position is similar to that of a ball thrower.

Throwing Axes:

As you gain the proper stance, you will also need to grasp the hawk correctly.  The fingers should be wrapped around the handle with the thumb on the side.  The throwing arm should be fully extended towards the target with the hawk pointed with the cutting edge down.  Then the throwing arm should be elevated over the shoulder, not bending the elbow fully.  As the arm is brought down to a near horizontal position, open the fingers for release.  At the time of release, the hand position should resemble that of a handshake.  Take caution not to twist the wrist, as it will cause the hawk to veer sideways.  Concentrate on arm motion rather than wrist motion.  Getting a hawk to stick to the target will no doubt take practice to ensure accuracy.

Deluxe Tomahawk Peacepipe:

Deluxe Tomahawk Peacepipe

In choosing a target to perfect your hawk throwing skills, a soft piece of wood or a wood leg, about 1 foot in diameter make excellent options.  A more formal target can be created by using 6 by 6’s.  Also, it is preferable to avoid using live trees as targets as a cut in the tree can result in sap loss, which in turn can result in a dead tree.

Now that you know a little bit about tomahawk throwing technique, it is time to get out there and practice!  And be sure to take a look at our tomahawk collection at:

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