Guest blog: How to (safely) add tomahawk throwing to your next Scouting event

Throwing tomahawks can spice up any Boy Scout, Varsity, or Venturing outing.

Step one: Put a sharp object in the hands of your Scouts.

Step two: Ask the Scouts to throw that object.

Sounds crazy, right? But if done properly, tomahawk throwing can be a fun, memorable, and safe activity for your next troop, team, or crew camp-out.

GUEST BLOGGER Chris Watkins is an Eagle Scout

Here’s how to get started.

On Friday night around the campfire, tell stories of Native American tomahawk-throwing competitions or about mountain men who survived because of their ability to accurately throw one of these weapons. Then, tell them that tomorrow, after breakfast and camp clean-up, they will learn how to be just as accurate.

The word “tomahawk” was derived from the Algonquian word otomahuk, meaning “to knock down.” Throwing the hawk is a unique sport that requires discipline, control, and accuracy and can be one of the most memorable activities for leaders and Scouts.

But ensure that you carefully set up a throwing station, provide safety training, and properly teach Scouts how to throw.

Throwing station safety and set-up

Worried about the concept of tomahawks flying through the air?

Just consider how many others have safely provided this activity because they were aware of a few simple safety instructions. As it says in the new Guide to Safe Scouting, every leader must first “identify and recognize [the] minimum skill level and be sure that none are put at risk by attempting activity beyond their ability.”

Remember that throwing a hawk is safe if you follow these rules:

  1. Secure a perimeter around the throwing area of at least 45 feet. Consider putting plastic flags up to prevent unauthorized entrance.
  2. Ensure that targets are at least 10 feet apart from each other.
  3. Store hawks in a secure location when not in use.
  4. Use only one set of hawks per target.
  5. Make sure adult supervision is provided at all times.
  6. Create a throwing line with rope or on the ground in some other way and adhere to the rule of never crossing the line when others are throwing.
  7. Create a safety line at least 10 feet behind the throwing line for anyone without a tomahawk.
  8. Be prepared. Have a fully functional first aid kit at the station at all times.
  9. Hold the tomahawk safely when not throwing. That is, hold the tomahawk by the head with your fingers wrapped around the metal arm (not the blade) with the handle closest to your thumb.
  10. And remember, no Cub Scouts are permitted to try this activity. Only Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers.

How to throw a tomahawk

It’s fairly simple. After familiarizing yourself with the safety rules above, follow these basics steps:

  1. Measure about five to six paces from your target, depending on height and handle length.
  2. Face your target with your feet positioned similar to a baseball pitcher with the foot opposite your throwing hand in front.
  3. Hold the hawk at the bottom of the handle (make sure the blade is facing forward toward the target).
  4. When throwing bring the hawk straight back and straight forward aiming towards your target.
  5. If you aren’t sticking the hawk, adjust the distance from you to the target. The longer the distance the more the tomahawk will rotate. In other words, if the hawk is over-rotating then you need to get closer to the target.

The same principle of hawk throwing can be used in knife throwing as well. Enjoy the great outdoors and teaching Scouts about discipline, control and accuracy. This will be a memorable experience for all.

Have any tips about throwing tomahawks at a Scouting event? Leave a comment below.

– Chris Watkins

NOTE FROM BRYAN: This guest blog post was written by Eagle Scout Chris Watkins, who owns a site that sells tomahawks and hatchets. Tomahawk-throwing is an approved Scouting activity for Boy Scouts and older. Cub Scouts should not participate. 

About Bryan Wendell 2776 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is senior editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.