Captain’s Diary: I grew up throwing knives like my father | Outside
Growing up (a process I’ll probably never quite complete) I was fascinated by knife throwing. It started young. I remember sitting around campfires on family trips. My dad invariably indulged in one of his favorite hobbies: sharpening a knife with a whetstone and a strop.
Then he would shave with it and clean it thoroughly afterwards. Then came the part I was always waiting for. He winked at me and threw the knife with ease but with considerable force at a nearby tree. I don’t remember him missing.
I got my first pair of assorted throwing knives when I was eight years old. I was already a good sniper with a BB pistol and a pellet gun, and I could break them down, clean them, and reassemble them with proven efficiency. There was a big old hard tree in my front yard, and I started training on it.
These early knives weren’t fancy, but they were reasonably well balanced. My first two thousand throws were a fragmentary mite; after that, they smoothed out straight away. I practiced from near and far, at right angles and right angles, with a soft throw and with all the strength I could muster.
After a while there were certain distances from which I could achieve a certain consistency, and under daddy’s tutelage I slowly improved. Over the next few years, he showed me how to hold a knife, measure the necessary rotation, control the throw, and continue.
Some of my friends came with their own set of throwing knives that their parents bought them to come and train with me. One of my cousins became almost as obsessed as I already was. As a teenager, we were very good.
By then I had a Bowie knife my uncle gave it to me, and I have built a reputation for power and precision with this heavy but beautifully balanced weapon.
Come to think of it, I learned a tremendous degree of discipline and control through this hobby. The frustrating part was that no matter how good I was, my dad could still walk, pick up a knife, and throw a perfect throw which made mine look poor. He motivated me and later I did the same with my kids.
When I became pre-teen and started shaving, my dad taught me to do as I had seen him do. I was already very good at sharpening knives, but he taught me a lot more about precise angles, pressures and hits on the whetstone and strop.]
I remember well the first two times it felt like I was scratching my face. My dad laughed and told mum that I would learn to sharpen knives properly much faster than I had learned to throw them because Pain is the best teacher in the world. He was right. I learned quickly!
My father grew up in the mountains in the mountains of Washington State. In his early teens, he often took his bag, rifle, knives, traps, and canteen deep in the mountains for weeks on end. It was he and his mother who lived in a cabin, and his hunting, trapping and skinning trips were part of how they got along and made a living. He was good at knives and guns.
In the middle of adolescence, World War II broke out. Dad convinced the recruiter that he was old enough and he joined the infantry. Dad was the perfect point man on patrols because of his prowess in the field, and he became a master sergeant.
He survived, but accumulated numerous scars from bullets, bayonets and shrapnel. I’m glad he did, so I can come to this world.
– Captain David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a non-profit organization providing boating opportunities to those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to find out more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read the previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.