Talent hits a target no one else can hit.

Genius hits a target no one else can see.

Arthur Schopenhauer

One of the joys of knife throwing as a hobby and art form is that it requires little outlay on equipment to get started; you need something to throw, and something to throw at! It is easy to focus primarily on the sharp pointy end of that relationship, and the knives are important, but investing some time and energy in making a decent target is key to good (and safe) practice.

In this section of the site I will be showcasing a number of designs and builds that I have produced along the way – some have been designed to be lightweight and mobile, others are fixed objects which are suited to specific throwing environments.

There are plenty of throwing games out there too with targets suited to that purpose – snooker, tic-tac-toe, happy families – you name it, someone has played it with knives and I will show a few of those rigs too along the way.

Whatever your budget, availability of resources and space, you should find something here that you can use.

My first target

The first target I ever made was an ambitious project that ended up looking more like a battering ram! It was somewhat over-engineered because it was made to withstand spear throws as well as knives (for the full story you can read about the Warrior Games which kick-started the Thronin challenge here).

The target face itself was an ‘end-grain’ design, meaning that it consisted of a whole series of sections of wood that were glued together and held tightly together in clamps overnight. Then a frame was built around the sections and that in turn was designed to be bolted to the body of the unit. The advantage of this kind of face is that the knives are striking the grain and so the wood is more resistant to splitting and it has longevity.

I would recommend a soft wood for the target face and it will be a lot less tedious if you can get access to a buzz saw to cut the segments. For this target I was lucky enough to get a little help from the woodwork shop at the school where I teach and it took almost no time to cut a whole pile of even 10 cm deep blocks. The second target I made was done at home over a weekend and I cut them all by hand – it took me almost two hours and a lot of elbow grease!

another tool that makes building the face a lot easier is a multi-angle band clamp to hold the blocks under tension while the glue sets. The adhesive I used was Gorilla wood glue and I also screwed them in place from the back (making sure the screws were not so long that they risked contact with the knives) while attaching a backplate made from a square of MDF. This whole set up made for a solid target that withstood a weekend of 30 people throwing at it multiple times – a decent field test I hope you’ll agree.  By the end of that weekend it was looking well-loved but continued to absorb impact and I am still using that same target today, alongside others I have made since.

The target stand had to be easily transportable and so I constructed it so that it could be quickly built or taken apart using a series of M12 bolts and screws. The legs of the stand were attached to base boards which had holes in them and these were pegged into the ground using long tent pegs – again, in hindsight this was overkill and subsequent targets I have made have been far less robust but equally effective (see some of the tripod designs further down this page). Below is a video clip that should give you some idea of how it was put together.

Tripod design

Competition target template

Basic self-standing target with plank-backboard

Improvised 3 target competition range