Invented by the Algonquian Indians hundreds of years ago, the tomahawk became a mainstay of warfare weaponry, eventually used not only by Native American warriors but also the United States Army.
Tactical tomahawks are increasingly popular with weapons enthusiasts. While they no longer are used for their first design – taking out the enemy – tactical tomahawks have become popular with civilians particularly for their use in throwing competitions.
Also, let’s face it, tomahawks are pretty cool.
History of the Tomahawk
The word “tomahawk” itself comes from the Algonquian language. The original tomahawk typically featured stone blades which were attached to wooden handles by rawhide strips.
Native Americans had many uses for the tomahawk. They were used in battle, of course, but also for cutting and chopping wood as well as hunting.
When Europeans introduced metal to Native Americans, they quickly adapted it for use in their tomahawks. Blades became made of metal, the back end was converted to a spike, hammer or a pipe (hence the name “pipe tomahawk”). American and European weapons makers made these type of tomahawks for trade with the Native Americans.
By the time the Americans revolted against the British Empire, members of the Continental Army carried a tomahawk for hand-to-hand combat (or a sword if they didn’t have one). Tomahawks were also carried by U.S. soldiers in World War II and the Korean War, although the popularity waned as more versatile guns were invented.
So, how are tomahawks used today?
Military Uses of Tactical Tomohawks
The tactical tomahawk is still used by the military for specific purposes, at least it was during the Iraqi War, according to ABC news and other sources. A tomahawk is particularly useful to breach windows and doors in situations where speed is required (in another words, no time to set an explosive charge) and the space is tight.
The tomahawk was part of the weaponry issued for Army Stryker units (a Stryker is an armored fighting vehicle), according to the military section of about.com. Tomahawks were used for digging trenches and removing road obstacles, as well.
Tomahawk Uses for Civilians
As mentioned, tomahawks were originally popular with Native Americans because of the versatility of use. The same can said for tomahawk owners now. While perhaps not ideal for every task, tomahawks are easy-to-carry tools that can take on most cutting tasks such as chopping, cutting and splitting.
Depending on the type of tomahawk you get, they can be useful on camping trips. Those with a blunt back end can replace the need for a hammer, while the blade replaces the need for a hatchet. Those with a hook – like the Khatchet from Krudo Knives – can be effective at pulling out stakes.
Probably the most popular use of tomahawks today is in throwing competitions.
Tomahawk throwing is an increasingly popular sport, with competitions around the country. The basic goal is to hit a target from varying distances by throwing a tomahawk – kind of like the warriors in every cool movie featuring Native American warriors.
Targets are usually made from tree trunks or lumber, with about a 12-inch target diameter. Typically, contestants stand about 10 feet away, then move back to 15 and even 20 feet. Contestants are typically instructed to strike the target in a certain order, and they are scored on their ability to do so.
The tomahawk can be great for those interested in owning a historically important tool, especially if you are interested in becoming good at throwing one.