Dartboard design: the next generation bandit story
Shot Darts designed the Bandit, the World's first and finest, patented bladed bristle dartboard here at our factory back in 1992. That board remains a firm fixture in games rooms and tournament venues worldwide.
Our design and production teams recently undertook the mission of re-designing the Bandit, adding new features in where needed, resulting in the new generation Bandit Boards.
The main question we asked ourselves was, how do you improve on a well-loved product with a legacy like The Bandit? There was no debate among the group that there were integral product features that wouldn't be altered or changed.
The premium African sisal we have always used in the board is the finest out there. Grown in Kenya to high specifications, it is conditioned to ensure the highest level of clarity and colour. That sisal is packed into the board to strict specification around optimal depth and density, a typical Bandit dartboard has 74000m equivalent sisal in one board. The Bandit board boasts an ultra- high percentage of sisal depth compared to other traditional boards in the market.
That is a fantastic 3.7million fibres compressed into each of the boards! This choice of this premium sisal has always given The Bandit outstanding durability and self-healing qualities and it will continue to do so with the next generation boards.
Similarly, the fact this dartboard is 100% staple-free won't change, the micro bladed 0.6mm wires on the Bandit have always been an impressive 50% thinner than other boards, for 16% more playing area giving players consistently higher scores. The Bandit was revolutionary in the way it virtually eliminated bounce-outs – no alterations required there.
We kept the composite board edging, it always gave the Bandit a clean finished look and allowed for easy clip on and off number ring rotation which players love.
Through nearly 50 years in the darts business, we've noticed that players have a preference for their boards as well as their darts and were often asking us for differences in dartboards. That prompted us to design our new generation Bandit Boards in two densities: the original Bandit, and the new firmer Bandit Duro. The Bandit sisal is medium packed, which is ideal for a lighter throw and best suited for humid climate conditions. The new Bandit Duro is hard-packed (a 6% increase in sisal) for a heavier throw, or for use with new generation steel tip grip points and perfect for dry climate conditions.
We tested our ideas for improvements by going outside the factory walls and speaking with dart players and federations. We asked them what they wanted in a new generation board. What were their "pain" points with dartboards? And we got some new answers around colours, distraction issues and board stabilisation - some of which we incorporated into the new design.
We designed the new board colours for optimal use under lighting. The new non-fade eco colours maximise the colour of the board segments (especially under lights). Rigorous testing with various lighting systems gave us the result of improved colours that are bright but are not distracting tonally.
The durable high tensile steel black powder-coated number ring is similarly designed for an improved visual experience. It helps the eye to follow the white numbers around the ring and eliminates the distraction of a white outer ring also, which was a frequent player issue when focus on scoring area is critical. The number ring is a clip on, clip off system and can be removed for easy ring rotation, as with the original Bandit.
One pain point for most dart players was the on-going issue of stabilisation. Loose, moving dartboards was a recurring problem. We solved this issue with our new dartboard backing. It's a simple and recyclable card system that easily slips over the back of the board and has the added value of noise reduction, for those at home players who need to keep the peace. Optionally included foam wedges also help to secure the board in place.
We've pre-fixed one half of our unique patented U bracket system to the back of the board for even easier installation.
And lastly, we added a bonus measuring tape to help mark out the mounting height and throwline. This tape and Instructional Handbook with hanging instructions and popular dart games are especially helpful for new players.
We've struck the right balance with retaining some of the all-important existing features of the original Bandit and introducing new features that dart players want and need in a premium dartboard. Much like Shot Darts, these new generation dartboards are an exciting blend of years of manufacturing knowledge, player experience and new technologies.
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