It was the ambition of the boys to be able to throw a tomahawk with the skill and accuracy of our pioneer forebears, and the ability soon acquired by the boys in throwing hatchets at targets was really remarkable. They would come up to within thirty feet of an old board fence with a whoop and a yell, then “click! click! click!” would go the hatchets, each and every one sticking fast in the board, either in a true vertical or horizontal line as it pleased them. Ever since those glorious days of my boyhood in Kentucky it has seemed to me that throwing the tomahawk should be one of the regular feats at all American athletic meets. -Daniel Beard, 1909
You’ve probably seen it in countless movies. A mountain man or Indian takes a man down by hurling a tomahawk through the air and sticking it into his enemy’s back. If you’re going to strike a man down, I can’t think of a more badass way to do it than with a tomahawk.
But contrary to popular belief, Native Americans and mountain men rarely threw their tomahawks, or ‘hawks, during battle. A tomahawk was one of their best hand-to-hand weapons, good for both offensive and defensive moves. Throwing a tomahawk to kill an enemy, while certainly very cool looking, put considerable distance between the thrower and his very best weapon. Even if a mountain man or Indian warrior killed his target, he was pretty much defenseless while he scurried to retrieve his hawk from his victim’s body.