Janesville56.9°

Janesville teen throws her way into Renaissance Faire

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
May 13, 2010
— The petite teen dressed in Renaissance attire paused, concentrated and then stepped forward, throwing a deadly sharp knife at her target—a log resting on an easel five paces away.

She threw again. And again.


Some of the knives stuck. Others bounced off. The stainless steel hitting the wood sounded like pitched horseshoes clanking against stakes.


“I’m still waking up my throwing ability,” Holly Kirkpatrick said.


“You can never be perfect. It’s always a nice challenge,’’ she said.


The 16-year-old Craig High School sophomore also throws axes.


Kirkpatrick and other members of the Midwest Knife & Axe Throwers this weekend will give lessons in the art of throwing knives and axes during the Janesville Renaissance Faire at Traxler Park.


“This will be my first official instruction job,’’ she said.


Kirkpatrick last fall shadowed another instructor at an event before taking her turn at instructing.


“It’s a little scary instructing anyone 8 to 80 who wants to learn to throw. You have to be able to get the feel of what the person throwing is doing wrong and how to correct that,’’ she said.


Kirkpatrick’s throwing technique involves using her elbow to point at her target. She avoids flicking her wrist.


“I don’t want that. I want the knife to throw in a straight pattern,’’ she said.


The local Renaissance faire experience will include professional instruction by donation, said Jon Winski, head knife instructor.


“We are going to work for tips. The main objective is to help the faire create an incredibly unique take-home experience,’’ he said.


Kirkpatrick has been learning for a year.


“We teach instructors how to teach someone else. Holly has been training and has a natural knack for that,” Winski said.


Winski and other members of Midwest Knife & Axe Throwers met Kirkpatrick two years ago at the Janesville Renaissance Faire. When given the opportunity to throw axes and knives, she landed five of six.


“She stuck them in the target her first attempt,” said Winski of Fort Atkinson.


Typically, Winski said, those given instruction on their first throw only stick an axe or one or two knives. But not Kirkpatrick.


“She took to it like a fish to water,’’ he said.


When Kirkpatrick returned to the local Renaissance faire last year, she immediately sought out the knife and axe throwers.


“Her skills did not change at all. She started sticking both knives and axes right away. She has exceptional hand-eye coordination, receives instruction well and applies it quickly,’’ Winski said.


That’s when the troupe extended an invitation to Kirkpatrick to become an instructor in training, he said.


“She has academic excellence at school and is one of the most polite and pleasant people to be around. She also has exceptional maturity and is very courteous,” he said.


Typically, Kirkpatrick practices spring, summer and fall throwing knives and axes an hour a day in the back yard of her parent’s south side home.


“Practice makes perfect,’’ she said.


Part of the appeal, Kirkpatrick said, is being able to say she throws knives and axes.


“It’s one of those unique things normal people wouldn’t think about. I love it.


“I may not be the best there is, but it doesn’t matter.’’



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