Understanding Dart Design

The average life expectancy of a darts player is 4 to 6 years! This is a sure sign of frustration. In this section, for your understanding, we implore you to make these TESTS yourselves. Question authority. This will be beneficial for your own knowledge, understanding and sales abilities.

The most important feature of a dart that determines quality and worth is the barrel’s grip, a close second, is the flight. If you have the best grip, you are going to get three things: control, consistency and accuracy. If you don’t have the proper grip, then those three items go right out the window no matter how much knowledge you have and practice you perform.

Lets look deeply here for an answer. Essentially, there are two methods of throwing a dart.

You can propel a dart either by pushing or pulling. In essence, where the best accuracy lies, is in your ability to push the dart forward in the same way that one would throw a ball or shoot a basketball. Basically you need a surface to push up against You don’t want a large surface, because you couldn’t throw tight groups, but conversely, at the same time you don’t want to be “pulling” a large ten penny nail either. Most darts on the market today are “pullers,” the worst kind of dart to have!

Through doing something in a natural manner, you are going to have more consistency and accuracy. Right? Doesn’t a person have consistent success when they throw a baseball, even if they haven’t done it for a long time? What they’re doing is two fold, 1.) They’re pulling the ball from behind their shoulder, then once they get the ball in front of their shoulder, 2.) they’re pushing the ball away from them. It’s in the pushing motion that they get their accuracy from. The only darts, I repeat, the ONLY DARTS that you are able to PUSH, are grooved darts!

TEST! – The muscles you use to push, and the muscles you use to pull are different Its all in the feel. Test it out yourself, please! Find a grooved straight barrel dart and another one that maybe even has a “diamond knurl.” Pay attention to the muscles that you are using when you throw both of these types of darts. The difference is very noticeable!

You are only going to get the best grip from a grooved dart. Grooves should extend the entire length of the barrel. By not having the grooves in the front area of the dart (where you aren’t gripping ), this will throw off the balance needed when your dart is airborne. Because the flight is in the rear of the dart, the dart itself is always going to be nose heavy and unless thrown forcefully every time, it will enter the board at a slight angle with the flight pointing up at the ceiling, UNLESS you have a flight that compliments the barrel being thrown and is also conducive for throwing the dart on a near to flat trajectory. See the section on flights.

TEST – Take the dart that you want to test and put in your throwing hand. It doesn’t need to have a flight on it. Just to simulate the situation of when you throw a dart, hold it as if you were actually going to throw it, and grip it in the exact same manner and with the same finger pressure you would if you again, were going to throw it. Next, take the dart in that frozen position in you hand, and hold the point down against a flat surface, like a table or even a wall. Now, with the same effort that you would use when you would throw a dart, and then attempt to penetrate the dart into that flat surface, much the same way you would press a thumbtack.

IMPORTANT! – you need to pay attention to the feel of what happens to your fingers. One of two things is going to happen. The worse thing is that your fingers are going to slip and move towards the front of your dart. If this happens, this is bad. If the dart slips here, then it is not going to give you the control you need when you are projecting it at your target! Conversely, if your fingers don’t slip, then the barrel has passed the test!

The second thing you need to be aware of is something that everyone has overlooked, and that is “pivotability“.

PIVOTABLILITY DEMONSTRATION: Hold a dart in your hand, sideways, pointing it to your left, if you’re a “righty” and to your right, if you’re a “lefty.” Slowly, and repeatedly, make the arm motion as IF you are going to throw the dart. Watch your thumb nail! As your hand comes forward, notice that the thumb is pivoting on the barrel’s surface as the dart barrel is staying relatively horizontal.

This is imperative for consistent throwing because if your grip was too good, the dart wouldn’t come off your fingers naturally due to it sticking to your skin, and if the surface was too slick, the dart would also come off your fingers in an even more uncontrollable manner.

TEST! – You can do this test on any darts, but you’ll get the same result here if you do in on either a “DIAMOND KNURLED” dart, OR a set of darts that has one of those rubber (sticky) surfaces. From a side-viewed position, hold the dart as if you were going to throw it and instead, take the nose of it as it is sticking out and move it up and down between your two fingers You will feel a lot of resistance on the entire surface of the skin of your fingers where the dart is touching. This dart WILL NOT come “off” your fingers naturally and consistently. It will be doing some funny things. Try this with a grooved barrel and you will notice that the dart will pivot easily, except if it has diamond knurl surface between the grooves! Please, take the time to test this for yourself!

Many of the grooved barrels today have a smooth surface in between each of the grooves This is not a good thing at all, because at that split second, when the dart is leaving your finger tips, a small, but critical amount of slippage is going to occur! This is why smooth surfaces on barrels even with grooves are not conducive for consistency also!

Tungsten vs. Percentages of Tungsten vs. Other Metals
Let the buyer beware! You aren’t kidding when it comes to darts! I just thought of a great idea (just kidding, but just follow along and you’ll get the point)! I’ll come up with a dart that is so thin that you can put 10 darts in a tight grouping about the size of this letter “o,” but they are so thin that the barrel resembles a human hair!

Unfortunately, you wont have much surface area of the dart to control them. On the other hand, I would think that a large surface area of a barrel would give me some great control, but they would be so large that I couldn’t throw tight groups due to the barrel diameter. Lastly, a long thin dart is great for both weight and throwing tight groups, but there is a distinct problem in controlling the dart due to the fact that it’s very long! A good rule of thumb here is to only shoot with darts that have a barrel length of not less than 1.5 inches and no more than 2 inches! There are quite a few darts that are in the 2.5 inch range and up. I know one manufacturer that doesn’t have anything under 3 inches. I wonder why!

Obviously, for control, we need the maximum surface area for control. Secondly, for grouping, we need a relatively thin dart. Thirdly, for longevity, we need a dart that will not be so light that we lose the control nor a dart that is so heavy that it becomes tiresome after a few hours of play.

What is the answer? Tungsten! It’s dense, durable, and it has more feel to it! Don’t waste your money on anything else, especially if you are just starting out! You won’t be able to develop as a player shooting a set of darts that are low in quality. You wouldn’t be able to develop as a player. Often, the quality of your equipment will inhibit performance. DON’T BUY CHEAP DARTS, and more importantly, DON’T BUY POORLY DESIGNED DARTS, often, they don’t go hand in hand.

Well, lets say you have had all the right equipment all along and when you first started shooting this set of darts, you were hot all the time! But, over the last year or two, your stuff just isn’t what it used to be. What’s happened? Well it’s tough to see, literally! Darts, whether they are tungsten or not, will show age, and will chip and decay over time! But it’s very difficult to see with the naked eye! When you are throwing tight groups and there is one dart already in the board, the following incoming dart, is going to strike the leading edges of the grooves, which is the most important areas on a dart! This is the area that you are pushing against for control and accuracy! This edge will deteriorate over time and the difference is so slow that it will sneak up on you! The only way to stay ahead of not letting this wear ruin your game is to make constant monthly inspections of all three of your darts by way of a high quality magnifying glass. Once you take a closer look at the leading edges, you’ll then understand. Seeing, is believing!

The barrel and flight significantly affects the control, consistency and accuracy of shooting a dart. Some 41% of all dart shooters shoot with the “standard” flight Incidentally, 47% shoot with aluminum shafts too. Those numbers are awfully close together! There might be a correlation here! These two items are the most used in the packaging of new dart sets today.

Correct me if I’m wrong. The longer a dart has to fly, the better chance it has for an error to occur during it’s flight. Do you believe that? I do! Well, I also believe that the larger the surface area of the flight, the more drag that will occur during flight. Testing time!

TEST – Find a set of standard flights, and a set of coal cracker flights. Throw each set for a period of five minutes, while paying attention to the amount of effort that you use in throwing each. In comparing the two different flights, you will find out that you will have to throw the standard flight darts harder, although the coal crackers will still, not feel that great! Remember this fact and don’t put away those coal crackers just yet!

TEST – Doing another 5 min./5 min. test, compare a smooth surfaced standard flight and a set of those other standard flights that have the bumps all over them You know the ones that I’m talking about. They’re the ones that are made like that so they last longer! I would rather go through a set of lights per day and shoot well rather than to have flights that last forever and shoot with mediocrity Wouldn’t you? Now I want you to again compare the difference between the bumpily standard flights and the smoothed surface standard flights. You’ll notice that you will even have to throw the bumpily standard flight darts even harder than the other standard flights! Feeling the difference yet?

TEST – Doing another 5 min./5 min. test, compare, for giggles, compare the bumpily standard flight with the coal cracker flights. They will be a lot easier! Right?! Well we aren’t finished yet!

TEST – Doing another 5 min./5 min. test, grab those coal crackers again and next, I want you to get a pair of scissors and in cutting off as little as possible, cut the very rear edge of the flights from the center where all the wings meet, to the outside of the wing and by doing so, you will totally eliminate the “rounded” rear corner of the flight. Take your time and try to do it the same way on all four wings, and do all three flights. If you have another set of the coal crackers, you first want to compare those first, and then the ones you just cut!

Well? How did it go? Surprised? Well, my curiosity is not so much about why and how much better the throw of my darts felt, but that with all the darts bought throughout the world, why wouldn’t a darts manufacturing company be testing these flights out themselves first and then put the better flights in the packaging with the darts that dart shooters are purchasing at some very steep prices? Or my next question is even more interesting, if they actually have done this common sense testing, then why in the world are they actually selling them?

If you don’t get the following point, your board won’t either! In steel tipped darts, it is inevitable that the tip of the dart is going to hit the wires that separate the dart boards’ targets. It is a fact of life, and you need to accept it. If you don’t, you are going to lose countless darts and scoring opportunities and won games, falling to the floor, and, unfortunately, this tends to happen a lot more at crucial times. Darts are not going to do you any good on the floor However, there is one thing you can do about it.

THE ANSWER – Moveable Point Darts
Most people have a bad taste for moveable point darts. Why? Well the moveable point systems that are in existence, still produce bounce-outs even though their names tell you they don’t. We have identified two major design defects that are prevalent in most all of them.

DESIGN DEFECT #1 – The collets that secure the moveable point systems to the barrels predominantly all lock the point to the center of the barrel. When a dart’s point stops on the surface of the barrel, it’s hit a near to flat surface because it’s hit the wire dead center. Once this point stops, the barrel continues to move forward and because the point is restricted in circumferential movement, it stays on the surface of the wire and ends up with double-hitting the exact same spot.

DESIGN DEFECT #2 – The typical dart manufacturer will put sharp ends on their points. This feature does not only dampen performance, it induces a liability situation. When a sharp point hit’s a wire, it digs itself into a crater Once a point is at the bottom of a crater, with pressure coming in from the barrel coming forward, the ONLY POSSIBLE WAY that it can physically come out of that hole is to make a complete REVERSE-MOVEMENT AND THEN MOVE TO THE SIDE and THEN MOVE FORWARD. No dart can, or will ever do that!

#1 DEFECT SOLUTION – Our moveable point, due to the wider collet opening and the pivoting action of the back of the point on the spherical forward end of the plunger, allows the point two full degrees of deflection from the initial spot where the point hit. This works because as soon as the barrel comes forward, just a hair, the point is transformed into a “free floating” state This is a very prone position. You can compare this to a situation where a point is suspended by a string with the tip being positioned against the dartboard’s wire and then someone strikes the backend of the point with a hammer. The point is NOT going to stay on the wire!

#1 DEFECT SOLUTION – What we’ve done with all of our points is that we’ve put a slight radius on the very end of the point. This prevents the point from digging itself into a hole and it also keeps itself on the surface of the wire. This gives the moveable point system sufficient time to operate.

*SELF-SECURING POINT FEATURE – Every dart player today wants and needs every advantage in every situation. This is what we look for in our designing goals. Notoriously, dart pub and bar owners do not change their dartboards often enough. Dartboards today really don’t cost that much, which could be the point, but I feel the issue is that bar games tend to be one of the last things that get the owner or manager’s attention.

With over-used dartboards constantly letting darts drop to the floor, up until now there wasn’t much one could due to prevent the situation. What our answer is, simply, is that we’ve put grooves into the tip of the dart’s point that penetrates into the board. These edges, exactly like those grooves you find on a dart barrel, end up being secured to the bristles in the dartboard When the shooter retrieves their darts, they have to make just a little more effort to pull their darts out. Even on the worst of boards, these dart points do not falter!

In our recent new version of darts, we’ve fined tuned the profile of this groove, which by the way is one groove and it spirals around the point. We’ve added angulation to the groove which does 3 things, 1.) It’s now able to penetrate the board deeper, 2.) The groove of the point will not get clothes-hung on the edges of flights of darts already in the board and 3.) The forward edge of this groove is now exposed more so that it will have a more secure grip on the bristles.

When you get a new set of darts, you will get, 95% of the time, a set of aluminum shafts of medium length and a set of standard flights. There are three things that affect the aerodynamics of the dart, and they are: 1) the weight of the barrel, I won’t mention the shape due to the fact that most are a “straight cylinder,” except for the torpedo shapes, and there isn’t much of a difference between the two, 2) the shaft and 3) the flight.

Shafts are made of a handful of different materials. Aluminum, nylon, plastic and a couple of others I won’t mention. Most dart shooters of the brand new, beginner and intermediate caliber tend to be trusting when they get their set of darts and just continue to believe that they were given the best equipment to aid in their search for darts excellence! Maybe, and maybe not!

Don’t take things for granted! Experiment! After all, aren’t you doing that during your practice sessions? Keep an open mind and try different dart components.

TEST – Throw your darts with aluminum shafts for five minutes, and then try nylon shafts for the next five, and then the next and then the next and so on!

What I am about to tell you, I don’t want you to take for granted either so you need to check it out for yourself! I feel that the best shaft for a dart is the nylon shaft. To me, it gives me a more natural feel for the flight, trajectory and control of the dart! Want to know something that’s very interesting? Aluminum shafts are more expensive! I wonder why they put them in the packaging if the cheaper nylon ones work better? Again, don’t trust me either, test it out yourself!

The length of the shaft is as crucial as the material of which it is made of. In most dart sets sold today, the darts come with shafts of medium length. The longer the shaft, the more the drag sets in, and the more difficult it is to control the dart So now, you have to arc the dart more, giving more opportunity for error during the trajectory.

On the other hand, micros, extra shorts and short shafts are difficult to control, although you can adapt easily to the short length. The medium length shaft is obviously impossible to throw.

What’s left? Well, want to hear something else that’s very interesting? Well, if you look at the lengths of the three smaller shafts: micro, extra short and short, you will notice that there is a definite proportion between the three of them! The medium length, which is too long, has a double of the proportion that’s between it and the short!!!!!!! It’s as if there were one that was missing. Strangely, that size is sometimes available but not much of the time! Interesting? I certainly think so, and I hope you do too!