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This blog contains additional information about the bowie knife, as well as the fighting knives of other nations.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bowie Knife Thrower: Joe "Brokenfeather" Darrah

I got an interesting email today from Joe Darrah, who makes custom bowie knives designed for throwing, as well as a whole line of more conventional throwing knives. He produces between 500 and 700 knives per year. I particularly like the above models, which have a classic "big bellied" bowie look similar to the Western and Case bowies. The image of the Alamo and the date of the battle are  engraved on the blade, with some elements cut completely through. Darrah created these especially for a knife-throwing event he helped organize at the Alamo.

Darrah, who is one quarter Blackfoot and has the Native-American name "Brokenfeather," was taught to throw an M-3 trench knife at age five by his father, who was then with the 101st Airborne in Korea and Germany. He has been throwing knives for the 49 years since, has worked as a circus knife thrower, and is an eight-time world knife-throwing champion as well as an all-around knife enthusiast and collector.

There's a short video of Darrah throwing knives here, and pictures of part of his collection here.

I have a chapter on throwing the bowie in my book. Among the people who were said to have developed a particular talent for it were Charlie Siringo, the "cowboy detective"; John Cremony, the Apache fighter; and William Gregg, a member of Quantrill's Raiders. However, I found only one or two documented accounts of men actually killing an opponent in a fight by throwing their bowie at him. (One or two depending on how much credibility you give one of the accounts.)

Throwing your knife at an enemy is generally considered a bad idea, because if you miss you've tossed away your weapon. In his book Knife Fighting, Knife Throwing for Combat, Michael Echanis resolves this problem by recommending that you carry two or three knives. Throwing the first will either succeed in incapacitating your opponent or cause him to cover up or evade the attack, enabling you to close in and finish him off with a second blade.


  1. Nine out of ten knife makers recommend that you carry two or three knives. :)

  2. I don't think I've ever thought of going out with only one knife?

  3. what if its a gunfight?

    1. It is generally accepted that throwing your gun at an opponent is less effective than throwing your knife, although if you are carrying at least 2-3 guns it might be an effective strategy.

    2. Since FBI stats show that knife wounds are twice as likely as gun shot wounds to be fatal, and that 80% of shootings take place within 21 ft (65% in the 0-6 feet range), I`m thinking you`ll do okay.Too many modern men have never seen what a sharp blade can do to a person or how fast it can happen.

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