Well, if you are playing golf, and you have a choice of going to a golf course out in Hicksville, NY or going to Pebble Beach, where do you want to go? Where are you going to play better and where are you going to enjoy playing golf the most? I won’t insult you and give you the answer.
Atmosphere is inspirational in every sport and that includes darts! Do not waste your money on garbage equipment unless you have a good reason! If you are going to play darts, play on the best board! Don’t know what that board is? Well, its Winmau’s Blade II. Visibility is key when it comes to a “shooting sport.” The Blade II is visually superb! On top of that, you also get the three most important features necessary for a dart board of quality; 1. The wires are “staple free,” 2. the wires are diamond style that aid in reducing bounce-outs and 3. All wires are one complete piece that’s not movable and they are recessed into the board. You cant ask for more! I do have one specific suggestion for them but I doubt that Winmau will improve on this board any more!
There is one drawback to having a great board at home! If you play in a league where the league plays on another specific board, that more or less is cheap and uninspiring, the difference in boards will be significantly noticeable and distracting! If you want to increase your proficiency when playing in the league, you are probably going to want to duplicate the cheap board at home! The real solution to this dilemma is actually getting one of each! Use the “Blade II” for your serious practice sessions, and then, when the day comes for your match, switch boards for your “match day” practice! When you go to your match, the board’s difference will now, not be so noticeable and distracting! The other real positive effect of having the two boards is that the cheaper board will extend the life of the more expensive board! Most people will play on a board for two to three years. Personally, I’m ready for another board after about six to eight months!
Here’s another huge board tip! When you get your “brandy” new board, hang it up and stand at the oche line. Now, notice how bright and shiny the numbers ring is, with all the glare coming off of it which is originating from your lights? Well, before you get rid of that old board, take the older (less shiny) numbers ring off of it and put the new one on the old board! Now, put the old one on the new board! Now you have less distractions from your new board, and on top of that, the “visibility” of the targets will pop out more! Keep doing this, board after board after board, and the numbers ring will get duller and duller, which is better!
We aren’t finished yet! We have to plan for the future! Now, take that old board that doesn’t look too bad now, and give it only to someone that has expressed an interest in darts to you in the past! If you know that you will be getting a new board in the near future, make sure that you start putting out some feelers to see who might be interested in receiving it! Offer to give these people advise on where to set it up in their residence, as well as how to set it up. After all, you know the measurements and the correct way to lay it out! If you want to do something nice for the advancement of darts make sure you attempt to give your board to a woman! Darts needs more women playing and darts is a game that men and women, usually enjoy playing together! Please-make sure you remember to bring your darts with you when you do a “set up.” With the “freebie,” these people might (not always) become inspired to go out and purchase a set of darts, a score board and a light! In the future, you might get a call to come over for some darts! Don’t stop there! While you are there, if they start shooting and they are doing something that should be corrected immediately, before they develop a really bad habit, just say to them in a matter of fact kind of way, “you know, i actually used to do that same thing before i made a correction to not do it.” Their curiosity will get the better of them and always ask, “What did you do?” Just go from there and give them a pointer and, while you are at it, just run through the basics that you read here at this web site. If you are really a nice person, we hope, give them this web site’s address! The better a person shoots, the more a person wants to play!
One last thing you should know about boards. Notice that some boards have different colors for the bull other than the traditional green single bull and the red double bull. Don’t buy these boards! The colors they use usually are red single bulls and black double bulls. Black is a “dimensionally dead color.” You can not see black! How can you shoot at something you can’t see! There is one particular dart board manufacturer that carried the bad color combination. I went out of my way to call them twice, because I thought they had a great board except for this defect, and tried explaining this to them. It didn’t do any good. They’re still doing the same thing and out of all the dart board manufacturers, their best board is dead last in popularity! Some people just don’t get it and they don’t get the business either!
Backboards vs. Cabinets
Pretty much the location of the dart court in your apartment or house will demand which you will use, either the cabinet or the backboard. When purchasing, if you are married, you had better consult first with your spouse, or else! Unless, of course, it’s a gift that you are being given by your wife, and then you will not have a choice. Avoid this situation at all costs while being diplomatic! If you do have a choice, there are some things to consider first!
Cabinets, with the right wood and maybe the right stencil on the front, if you like that sort of thing, and in the proper room can be both attractive and practical! It is nice being able to shut the doors of it, so you can put it out of sight. but personally, i have always loved the graphic of the dart board! Why would i not want to see it? Some of the cabinets made today are cheap, tacky, and on top of it, the board seems confined. The doors swing when you write the scores on them, and then, if you want to get an electronic scoreboard, which is quickly becoming a necessity, it is not going to look right when placed next to the cabinet!
If you are not planning to get an electronic score board (expensive, but an accessory that’s worth it!), then a cabinet is good! DartSmarts.com is currently working with an accomplished furniture manufacturer in Vermont that makes some “drop dead gorgeous” looking items. They are developing a very high end cabinet that will be extremely attractive and have all the problems solved! Soon, you should see this item come out in our on-line catalog, if it isn’t there at this time.
Backboards, to me, are a cross between a picture of a dart board, and an altar! I, personally, like backboards much more than a cabinet, if the backboard has a nice wooden frame to it and the inner area is free of any advertisements. What’s wrong with advertisements? Well, the dart board is busy enough with all the different targets that stand out, not to mention the numbers ring itself. So, what you don’t want to do is overload yourself visually, while you are shooting for long periods of time. Ever look at some actual wallpaper that is busy beyond belief? One doesn’t even want to look at it, let alone look at it for long periods of time! In fact, if you think about it, that “busyness” actually hurts your eyes to look at it!
If you do have an existing backboard that, maybe, has an advertisement on it, that you would, now, like to get rid of, or, you are just looking for a change, I can suggest one thing for you to do. Go down to your local fabric store and take a really good look at all the material they have. Do not choose this the same way some people pick out the colors for their billiard table cloth! Ever see a red billiard table? Wow! My eyes still hurt from some of them! Pick a medium green color that will have a relaxing effect on you and don’t have it too thick either, because you are going to take the frame off of your existing backboard and then staple (try to borrow an electric stapler if you can) the new material to it, and then put the frame back together. You might find that the thin material will still be too thick and cause you to have to screw the frame together (at the top and bottom), so just pre drill the holes and before you put it all back together again, take a thick black magic marker and color the inside of the frame’s pieces at the ends where they adjoin. There will probably be some gaps between them and the light color of the wood would have been a visual eyesore that stuck out against the darker grain of the outside of the frame!
My dart team, for seven years, was either first or second in a league of over 60 teams. One of the advantages we had, was that I had our “home dart court” set up with lighting that was controlled by rheostat (variable) switches. Half of our matches, thirteen, were played at home, while the rest were played at various pubs that had various lighting conditions. Our home matches always had the best lighting, which visiting teams were not used to and before we went to an away match, we were all sure to show up early and practice under the same lighting conditions as we were going to be playing under that night! Unfair? I never saw any rules that covered this situation!
There are two types of lighting. One is incandescent, which is a typical screw-in light bulb. The problems with incandescent lighting is that it tends to be more yellowy, casts off hard shadows and under close quarters, gets too hot! The other type of lighting is fluorescent lighting. This is the best! It’s cool, clean and it’s white light, but, most of all, under the right set-up, shadows are eliminated completely! The only drawback is that one needs to fashion a “box OR lighting box” in order to shield the light from the shooter at the line. This drawback is only a onetime thing. I’d rather deal with that than to have to, continually, play under the adverse conditions of incandescent lighting..
Something needs to be said about “flood” lights as opposed to “spot” lights. I know a pub owner that wants more business. He used to have eight teams playing out of his place. Now, I think he has four or five. He has a “track” lighting strip on the ceiling that is better than twelve feet away from the dart board. On top of that, he has the track coming out from the board (not horizontally) and on top of that, he has five flood lights! He was made aware of the situation and has not done anything to change it! Somehow, it doesn’t surprise me that someone like this would even care about what his customers care about!
Spot lights are better than flood lights, but both lights are yellow, cast off shadows and are hot! Halogen screw in light bulbs are the hottest, but are less yellow at high intensities or when they are the hottest!
One of the best ideas for increasing the quality of light without adding more light fixtures was created from the situation where lighting is the most needed. Surgery! This was actually my idea, biased, huh? I worked as a surgical orderly when I was in my early twenties. When I started playing darts, I built a lighting box for my dart court that had mirrors lined throughout the entire inside of it! It was perfect! Fluorescent, shadowless, white light, cool and more than enough light! Just make sure you use the proper glue, or else we all will be reading about you in the obituaries!
Computerized scoreboards are now becoming a necessity for developing as a “performance shooter.” In chess, there are computers that will play at any skill level you want, from moron all the way up to grand master. Chess is like any game, if you get the itch to play, it’s always tough to find someone to drop what they’re doing to come over to your house to play for a few hours. By having a chess computer or now, an electronic dart score board, you don’t have to listen to things like; “you have reached the elcan residence, no one is available to take your call..,” or, “sorry, I’m busy”, or, “sorry, I’m not feeling well,” or, “sorry, I was just heading out,” or… Get the picture?
Now, there are electronic scoreboards that can also play against you besides keeping score for a match of any game between two or more players! How do they work? That’s easy! First you set the skill level to what would give you a fair game-which allows you for a warming up period, then, if you are lucky, there is another variable that you can set that will increase the strength that the computer is playing at if you win, or, most importantly, decrease in strength if you lose! So what is happening here is that the computer is playing against you at a consistent strength level. It also is forcing you to play harder and harder if you win, and if you lose, it lets up just a little, so you don’t become demoralized! You cannot ask for more! These electronic scoreboards work as a playing partner simply by entering your score. The score board automatically will enter the score that corresponds to the strength that you previously set it up at. Technology is wonderful isn’t it?
hopefully, you have taken our advice and are now looking at two dart boards (a Winmau’s Blade II and the same cheap board you play on during league matches), an attractive but simple backboard, and an electronic scoreboard. The next step is to determine where to set it all up.
What should determine where, is based on what level of “serious” shooter you hope to be. You will get the most use out of your board if it is in a conspicuous spot where you will see it and then get the urge to throw! If it’s in a closet, It isn’t going to happen! Basements are good if you have kids and need some quiet time for yourself and recreation rooms are OK, IF you can get some quality time there without distractions. Another factor, once you have chosen the room, will be the convenience of a table or BAR to the throwing line! Beverages are a part of darts, whether they are alcoholic or not. Refrain from eating while shooting and above all, while drinking, use your NON throwing hand for drinking! Coldness has a numbing affect, and the last part of your body, oops, sorry, I mean the next to last part of your body that you want numb is your throwing fingers!
So now once you have the spot in the room all picked out, you need to realize one thing. Not all floors are on the level! In my early twenties, I leased a house with two other people in Natick, Massachusetts. After we left the house, it became condemned! We didn’t do anything to it, it was just old! It was so old that it had an actual brick oven in the kitchen! Well, we set up a dart board in a small room off the kitchen. At the throwing line, the bull was at my nose level. When I walked up to the board to retrieve my darts out of the bull, the bull was about two inches over my head!
Even before you are going to hang the board, you must first determine where the throwing line or oche is going to be. In doing so, you need to first add to the length of seven feet, nine and 1/4 inches, then the thickness measurement of the backboard and the dartboard. If you have a baseboard, you need to subtract the thickness of it from the total length of everything you added together. It looks like this:
Distance from line to board 7′ 9 1/4″
Thickness of board 1 1/2″
Thickness of back board (let’s say) + 2″
Subtotal 8′ and 3/4″
Baseboard (minus) 1/2″
Total 8′ and 1/4″
Now, measure along the floor, out from the base board, the distance of 8 feet and 1/4″. Put a temporary piece of tape down to mark the spot! The way to actually determine the correct height of the dart board, is to measure first, five feet and eight inches high above the throwing line or oche, and then you need a “level line” by string pulled tightly to the wall. As long as the string is level the distance to the board will be at the correct height! They do have levels that will hook on a string, that are reasonable in price. I strongly suggest using these levels in this type of situation.
Just be aware that most pubs, even though they want you to come there to spend money, usually don’t care enough about keeping you happy (so why should you do the same for them). Most pubs will not have their boards at the correct height, not to mention that they usually have inadequate lighting, scoreboards and, in some instances, I have actually seen a bad throwing line! The line wasn’t bad, it’s just that there was a bulky electrical switch plate in the floor right where I have to put my foot in order to shoot at the 20’s! There ought to be a law! So be prepared that while you are at home shooting under the best of playing conditions and equipment, you will have to accept and deal with shooting under the worst of them as well. The advantage is that when you practice enough, you will still have an advantage over shooters that you go up against! This is the position where we want all of our members to be in!
Good luck with setting up!