Tuning Your Darts
Like most people who play darts, I find it a relaxing release. An escape from the frustrations of work. I have to admit, like most people who play the game, I like to win. In my youth, I would get frustrated and annoyed at being beaten, but as I matured in years I accepted defeat and used the experience to improve my game and to strategize.
Darts is a game of skill; it pits you and your ability not only against an opponent, but against the board, the venue, and most importantly against yourself. For most of us, when we lose a leg or a match, it’s not only the other player that beat us, but, we contributed in some way. So, let’s look at one way we can help improve our game, tuning our darts.
We all have our own style of throwing. Some of us focus and aim, some use muscle memory, some just chuck and hope for the best.
Watch a video of a pro player, like Peter Wright, he focuses aims and throws. Very methodical, doesn’t rush and is a very successful player. Players like Michael van Gerwen use a combination of aim and muscle memory. Aim with the first and rapid fire the rest using muscle memory. If you’re not convinced look at some videos of Phil the Power Taylor, the ultimate players player of the last twenty odd years.
So, let’s start with the tools of our game and see how we can make these metal missiles do our bidding, no matter how we throw.
Whatever we prefer in dart styles, everyone’s goal is to eventually hit a maximum, a 180 or at the very least win a game or two. Modern dart technology has made it more achievable than in the past. Darts are weight matched, I still have a set of 26g tungsten darts from the 80s that range in weight from 25.7g to over 28g, today they can be thinner than ever because of the density of modern tungsten alloy, so theoretically you could fit more than 3 darts into the treble twenty.
So, what stops us? Well apart from the obvious, the way our darts stick into the board.
Many of us have purchased a set of darts online or even in store, got them home, assembled them only to find they didn’t go the way we thought they would. So the first thing a lot of people think is they bought the wrong set, that is a possibility, but chances are you can make them work for you !
I’m not going to go over the way you should throw your darts. If you think you have an issue with your action there are enough tutorials online that will cover your grip, action and anything else to do with how to throw your darts.
Let’s start with the simple stuff.
When you throw your darts at the board they should fly in a shallow arc toward the board.
When they land in the board they should be at an angle of between 1 degree and 15 degrees (in a perfect world) above the horizontal.
Let’s face it, no one is perfect and no one will measure the angle with a protractor, I’m happy if the angle looks reasonable and the darts in the board don’t cover what I’m trying to hit.
So, let’s say you just bought a new set of darts, you can throw them in a straight line but they stick in the board with the flight lower than the point, or they stick in the board at such a steep angle the flight is almost touching the board above the point. Either way it just doesn’t look right.
Let’s look at what we can do to solve our problem.
Look at your barrel, is it straight, tapered or weighted at one end or the other?
Is it a new set replacing an older set you just bought from Deadeye Darts? Are they the same basic shape as your old darts? Or did you go crazy and you bought something completely out there and so different to what you usually throw because it looked cool online?
Start by throwing at the board a few times, look at the way they land and go from there.
I personally don’t like the fact that some new darts come with a shiny chrome plated point. For me the point is an integral part of my grip. Shiny points in my case, lead to darts slipping in my hand as I try to throw them. One BIG reason your darts don’t fly straight could be that they are slipping out of your grip as you throw them. To start with, just scuff the points to give a bit of traction in your grip.
I always keep a few sets of stems and flights lying around near the board, different lengths, different materials, and a few sets of flights in different shapes.
There is no simple formula to setting up a set of darts.
A few years ago I purchased a set of Target Power 9Five Generation 2 darts.
They are a 40mm barrel with a long titanium shaft with Target Vapor flights. To be honest I was cursing Phil Taylor because I couldn’t throw the things, not for love or money. Eventually I changed the flights through standard, pear and then kite. Eventually, by trial and error, I could throw them almost normally, still not completely satisfied, I tried a few different styles and lengths of shafts in plastic, nylon, polycarbonate, carbon, hybrid and Titanium, every change in length and material affects the weight at the rear of the dart. The centre of balance moves forward or backward on the barrel depending on the shaft length. I progressively tried shorter shafts until I was pleased with the way they looked in the board and with the fact I was hitting what I threw for consistently. What I finally had, was a Power 9Five dart that I could throw and consistently score well and hit doubles!
One thing to remember not all shafts are equal or identical, there can be up to 3mm variation in shaft lengths even though they are all listed as short or medium etc.
I’ve used this process on every set that I’ve thrown over the years. From 20g 90% Tungsten through to 25g 95% Tungsten, even 27g darts, it works for me and, I’m just an average bloke who loves playing darts.
The other option available to tune your darts are the points.
There are so many different variations available in length, design, and surface finish. The average dart is supplied with a point length of 25mm exposed (there’s about 5mm of point lodged in the barrel), it’s not uncommon to see points at about 41mm available. Most points need to be installed with a repointing tool, although I’ve heard rivet guns, vice grips and all sorts will do the job, each to their own. I’m a fitter by trade, I use a repointing tool I haven’t broken or damaged a dart or point (Touch wood). The recent arrival of “Swiss Point” darts, where the points screw in and out of the barrel with the tool supplied with your darts, easy, but they’re only on one brand of dart. There has been much comment about the Swiss point design, in particular about how easy they are to snap a point. I know of a few people who have played with them, but never met anyone who broke one.
Just remember, changing points alters the weight slightly and also alters the centre of balance.
The modern game has given us many players with ‘personality’ MVG, Snakebite, Gerwyn Price, just to name a few.
In recent times it has become more popular to not only tune your darts but to style your kit, darts, stems, flights and points come in a variety of colours, styles and finishes. Take the time to add your personality to your darts, add your style, your finishing touch to the equipment of choice. The range of variations is almost limitless. More importantly always remember in most cases price does not always indicate a superior or better product. Compare the alternatives, in many cases branded items are available in either cleanskin or alternative branding, try the alternatives, they can be the same item without the logo and be the same or better.
Most important of all, don’t be afraid to experiment, the worst that can happen is you wasted a few dollars trying something that might just improve your game.