Darts equipment: simple complexity
In this week's tip, I'd like to change the way you think about darts equipment and how a single setup may not be your best option.
Like all sports, as you progress you will notice price does make a difference. If you have a $10 piece of kit, you'll rarely play an $80 game…. an $80 standard out of the equation.
Every sport talks about the evolution of equipment and how it has enhanced modern play. Not every sport can be wrong?
I understand some unique people who can play at a high level regardless of their equipment. This is due to genetic lotteries or dedication to technique. However, they will ultimately need quality equipment to be at their best.
So let's talk about equipment- even the stuff that you haven't considered adding to your set up - these are just as important as your darts themselves.
Advancement in darts equipment boils down to investment and ingenuity from designers and craftsman on the floor. We aren't talking about the difference between brass bombers and new tungsten darts, and we are talking about grades of tungsten, weight matching and overall delivery investment that makes all the difference.
The inspiration for my first-generation dart was given to me by a friend. When I threw an old set of old worn darts, they felt different, and I couldn't get a good feel for them. However, my friend pointed out I'd hit a string of tons with 5x 140s in a row.
Adamant I needed to feel comfortable off the bat with darts instantly, and I soon realised the uncomfortable feeling was little more than a subtle variation in throwing speed. The weight matched my arm speed, and the grip provided enough grip without being overbearing.
My love of straight barrel darts began.
The dart barrel is a significant component of performance. However, the dart is reliant on the correct setup. If you apply the same setup to every dart without trial and error of other combinations, you are doing yourself a disservice in my opinion.
I took about 6 months to settle on a medium stem, with a number 6 flight.
Before you trial barrels, here is what I recommend for everyone.
- Try at least 4 sets of different shape / size flights. (not different thickness)
- Try 3 sets of varying length stems.
- A point machine.
- 3 different length points. (within your comfort range)
Some other factors to consider.
The total length of your point and barrel should not be longer than your Stem and flight. There are very few exceptions to this rule (and too few who I have seen capable of pulling it off).
The barrel add-ons (Stem, flight point) will move the balance point of your total dart. The ability to control balance points will impact performance and why dart performance works hand in hand with technique.
Most people will settle on a playing weight quickly, though throughout a career you will move between 1-2 grams up and down.
The fun is in finding a dart that you like.
If you ever settle on a forever dart, buy more than 1 set! There is nothing worse than getting to a point your darts feel like soap, and you either have to pay for custom darts that will have different grades of tungsten or machined differently, or you can't find another set to replace worn darts.
(Hint: If your barrels ever feel soapy, use toothpaste and a toothbrush to scrub them)
What I look for in a dart.
I was pedantic with my barrels. You may have seen a video I did on how I set up my barrels for use that includes measuring barrel length, width and weighing darts 3 times. I do this to eliminate performance limiting factors.
If a game goes bad, I know my darts aren't a problem. (Or are they?...see preparation article)
The point seat depth of my barrel shouldn't be deeper than 10mm. I ask Shot Darts to keep mine at 5mm. The stem hole should be just enough for a standard stem thread.
In short, I don't want any hollow section in my dart at all where possible. It was always my theory air pockets in the dart increased the deflection distance, whereas removing air pockets always made solid contact at the head, and pushed through flights and ran down barrels more consistently.
I am a big believer the colour of your flight will impact your game. Using neutral colours and shades will reduce the number of focus interruptions during your game.
I always used black equipment up until 2008, when I found I could sight white flights better.
Through experimenting with all shapes and colours, I found flights made a huge difference to how I felt and focus control. For example, I play straighter with white flights, though if the flight is too thick (140 micron) I could lose focus from time to time.
Playing shirts should be loose-fitting and breathable. There is nothing worse getting to the end of a day begging for a shower, only to have to play a final. (Something common in some parts of Australia)
The last thing you want in a close match is to have your shirt sticking to you, taking away your focus.
Shoes need to be comfortable and supportive if you are going to play long days. They also need to be durable, as you will use them a lot as a player. Always practice in your playing shoes. No exceptions!
In a game where millimetres count, you wouldn't want to practice on board that isn't the right dimensions, so why change the dynamic with shoes.
The profile on shoes are different and can change by a few millimetres in height, pitch and feel. Practising consistency should mean consistent feel as well, and your shoes are a critical aspect.