Wednesday, June 20 , 2018, 12:46 pm | Partly Cloudy 67º


Captain’s Log: Dad Was a Veteran Who Taught Me to Throw Knives

My Dad grew up a mountain man in the Northwest — literally. When he was in his mid-teens, the U.S. was forced into the second World War and he somehow convinced the recruiter that he was old enough to sign up.

The truth is, Dad and a couple of his buddies went off northward to join the Royal Canadian Air Force to be flyboys. But somehow, Jack Daniels got involved and when they awoke the next morning they were in the U.S. Infantry.

The incredible skills Dad had learned growing up as a mountain man were recognized and he was advanced relatively quickly to 1st sergeant.

He fought through and survived two theaters of war (Pacific and Europe), accumulating numerous scars from bullets, bayonets and shrapnel.

Afterward, he hitchhiked 1,200 miles and asked my Mom to marry him. A few years later, my siblings and I came along.

While growing up, I had a fascination with knife-throwing. It started when I was young.

I remember sitting around morning campfires on family camp trips. My Dad would invariably engage in one of his favorite passtimes — sharpening a knife with a whetstone and strop. Then he’d shave with it and carefully clean it afterward.

Then came the part I always waited for. He would wink at me and throw the knife with ease but considerable force at a nearby tree, and higher up than I could reach. I don’t recall him ever missing.

I got my first set of matched throwing knives when I was eight. I was already a good marksman with a BB gun and could break it down, clean it and reassemble it with practiced efficiency.

Now it was time for more skills. There was a big old tough tree in my front yard and I began practicing my knife throwing on it.

Those first knives weren’t fancy but they were reasonably well-balanced. The first couple thousand throws were a mite sketchy. After that, they smoothed right out.

I practiced close and far, at an angle and straight on, with a soft throw and with all the force I could muster. After a while, there were certain distances from which I could attain some consistency.

But, that wasn’t good enough, and under the tutelage of my Dad, I slowly improved. During the next years, he showed me how to hold a knife, gauge the needed rotation, control the throw and follow through.

When I was in my mid-teens, my uncle gave me his Bowie knife, and I built a reputation for power and accuracy with that heavy yet balanced weapon.

Thinking back, I learned a tremendous degree of discipline and control from that hobby. The frustrating part was that no matter how good I got, Dad could always walk up, pick up a knife and make a perfect throw that made mine look poor.

Now I can do the same thing to my son and it makes me smile. He has his first child and I’m sure he’ll do the same for her.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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