Bill Kilfoyle

In their travels many Just Ottawa  readers will have come across some interesting off-the-beaten-track festivals, often in foreign lands.  Here is one I recently stumbled upon just a few miles south of Pembroke in our own Ottawa Valley.

It was Sunday afternoon June 19. We passed a roadside sign near  the village of Micksburg  announcing the Canadian National Knife and Tomahawk Throwing Competition. We decide to attend.  It was held on the historic Wright farm, a full fledge working farm with cattle and crops. We had no idea that knife throwing was such a well organized and popular international sport. Over the weekend over 300 visitors had watched 31 world class competitors. 



The Wright Farm where the competition was held



We arrived at 2 pm. to find that the National Championship  contest had been concluded that morning. Ward Wright (below left) won the Pro Knife finals followed by David Cox of Boston and Melody Cuenca of Las Vegas  (Melody seen below, at ease, and in competition). Melody is a wife, mother, stunt woman, western arts performer and 8 time world champion knife thrower.



So we were too late to see the international knife throwing competition, but we we were in time ro see some interesting “games”, the most interesting of which was the  "Fast Draw" competition.. This is similar to the gun fights in the Old West. It`s a strategic trade off between how fast you are and how accurate you are.


knife1.jpgReady and Throwknife2.jpg


Here is how it  is  done.

Each competitor stands 8 feet from their respective  target with their throwing arm extended shoulder height in front of them.  Their knives are in the scabbards on their belts. There is an electronic light system between the targets. The referee turns on the yellow light to signal “get ready”.  Then between 3 and 8 seconds later the machine randomly turns on the green light. The competitors reach for and throw their knives at their respective targets. Each  target has electronic embedded sensors which can record vibrations to one one thousandth of a second.

It is not enough to hit the target first: the knife has to stick into the wood and stay there. There is some strategy to this I was told. If you think you are faster than your opponent you slow down a bit to give more attention to making sure the knife sticks in the target. If not, you go for broke and rely to some extent on luck. The fast draw competition was won by Paul Maccarone “Big Mac” of Ithaca, New York, who just happens to be the 2014 Fast Draw World Champion.

Then there was the distance throwing contest for both knives and tomahawks. Each competitor could throw three knives and three tomahawks.

About 80 % of the competitors hit the target but only about 10 % of the knives and tomahawks actually stuck in the target and stayed there.

The winning knife throw was 17.9 metres. For the tomahawk it was 19.5 metres. Even if the tomahawk didn't stick into you, it would still be no fun to be hit by the dull side of a flying axe !

The next big competition is the ”Worlds” later this year in Austin, Texas.

If you were ever tempted to attend you can get more  information at the website for the  International Knife Throwers Hall of Fame at

Tags: Bill Kilfoyle