This is a skill we practice in every SWR class and kayaking class - yes even beginner kayak classes believe it or not.  I love throw rope practice as an exercise to keep students busy while we are waiting for everyone to show.  It is easy to practice the various throwing styles on land.

There are several ways to throw a line across a river. Underhand typically works best for long heavy lines. Overhand like a baseball pitch does well with smaller 1/4" lines. Sidearm may be necessary to avoid overhanging branches. These are your typical direct throwing techniques. In some cases you may need to get someone part of the way in the rapid, perhaps on a midstream boulder. If he brings two lines, he can toss to both shores and tie in the middle. Alternatively, someone can toss to this person. He can then take up the slack and rethrow to the other side. This buddy throw technique is great for bypassing obstacles. Rescue professionals use a really long thin line called a messenger line. Parachute cord is one example. You can tie a small weight on the end and toss a very long distance. Once across, tie your primary line on the end and quickly pull across. We can improvise to some extent with personal throw lines (the 1/4" ones) by tying several together.

Using a coiled rope technique, you can take advantage of both ends of the rope. Simply make two sets of coils, place yourself in the center, and toss each coil to each swimmer. If two swimmers grab onto the same end of a rope, be prepared for a major tug. This is a great practice drill and smaller rescuers will often need a second person behind them to press them down in a buddy belay.

Many rope tosses fail due to tangling of rope inside the throw bag. This always happens when you neatly coil rope outside the bag and then stuff. The proper way to stuff a bag is inch by inch directly in the bag and fill from the bottom to the top of the bag. A great way to do this is to drape the long end of the rope over your shoulder and use both hands - alternating - to draw the rope into the bag. One word of caution though, many PFDs these days simply have a shoulder strap and ropes have rough surfaces. You may need to wear a shirt to use this technique to avoid skin irritation. For a great demonstration of this technique and a new throw bag design, check out the following video: Stuffing a Throw Bag.