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Gruszecki sharp at Game of Throws

Published on

Jonathan Maillet
For the Journal

Local axe and knife thrower Jerry Gruszecki had an impressive showing at the Blade Aces Game of Throws competition last month.

Blade Aces, a leading force in the world of knife throwing, hosted the knife and axe throwing competition August 18-20 in Chillicothe, Ohio.

Gruszecki, a Sarnia native and professional knife thrower, competed in a number of events, earning five awards.

He placed second in the Professional No Spin event – in which competitors must throw the knife straight like an arrow – which he says is the most difficult.

“No Spin is where you throw the knife from any distance; the knife doesn’t rotate, and flies like an arrow out of your hand,” said Gruszecki, whose farthest No Spin throw is 12 metres. “It looks like witchcraft – it looks like someone is using black magic to get to do that, and it just takes a lot of practice.”

Gruszecki, who has his own two-lane, ten-metre outdoor range at home, practices about four to five hours a night, and has been competing for eight years now against some of the world’s best.

He also placed second in Conventional Knife Rotation and picked up first in both the five and seven-metre Euro Throw.

Sarnia native Jerry Gruszecki won several awards at the Blade Aces Game of Throws competition last month. (Submitted photo)

In Pro Rotation, competitors throw from distances of three, four, five and six meters, throwing three knives at each distance, four times, for a total possible score of 300. In rotational, throws are also done with a half-spin, one-spin, one-and-a-half, as well as two spins. In the Euro Throw event, there are no restrictions on spin.

With 61 competitors from both the U.S. and Canada, Mac Stoughton of Fort Scott, Kansas was the overall Professional Champion.

“We are pleased not only for the turnout but also for the caliber of talent that competed this weekend,” said Ron Thomas, Blade Aces co-CEO in a press release. “The sport continues to grow in popularity and Blade Aces will continue to lead the best practices for knife throwing competitions.”

In order to become pro, a competitor must hit a 200 score; Gruszecki, was certified pro in 2017.

He says a total score of 250 makes one considered a master.

“There’s only about six or seven of them in North America,” he said. “My closest was 244.”

The three-day event in Ohio, Gruszecki says, offers more than just knife throwing.

The first day of competition is a head-to-head in the traditional events, while day two is all about overall score. Day three he says, offers a variety of competitions, like archery, bullwhip and quick-draw.

One of the more interesting events is gun-versus-knife, where competitors vye to throw the knife faster than someone can draw and fire a gun — suggesting it’s possible to bring a knife to a gunfight.

Gruszecki also competed in the World Championships earlier this month in Pembroke Ontario, taking first place in Gold Cup No Spin, Pro No Spin and Overall Score. He also placed third in the tomahawk event (axe throwing) as well as second in Conventional Knife.

He says these events attract the best in the world.

“You’re looking at the best in North America and the world sometimes,” said Gruszecki, who was one of around maybe a dozen Canadians at the Ohio event, which even brought competitors from Europe.

Competitions happen all over – Texas, Florida, Ohio, Las Vegas – and the nationals and world championships take place in Pembroke, where the International Knife Throwers Hall of Fame is located.

Gruszecki, who discovered his love of throwing after a trip to Valley Axe in 2016, says he would love to see more people take up the sport – adding that it’s not nearly as dangerous some would think.

“I wish more people would do it,” he said. “I think people need to not be scared of it; if you know how to properly handle knives, no one gets hurt.

“It’s not a dangerous sport,” he added. “I won’t lie, I’ve been hit by people ricocheting knives, but we don’t use live-edge knives, and it’s like any sport – you can get hit, but it’s probably less dangerous than soccer.”

The sport comes with an accepting and supporting community, he added, and it’s easy to start.

“You can do it no matter what your fitness level is. There are no gender groups – men and women compete against each other and it lets everyone in without barriers.”

For those looking to get started, Gruszecki advises to try axe throwing.

“It’s easy to learn and hard to master and gives fundamentals on learning how to throw,” he said. “Buy an axe and a piece of wood, and start throwing at it. Don’t throw at live trees, that’s something big in our community.’

And lastly, he adds, “Do it in a place that’s safe.”

Gruszecki now looks towards Dangerfest this month in September, an event held in Indiana.

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