Darts: a game where participants compete with one another by throwing small arrow like devices at a target that is round and has numbers and sections and an inner bull with an outer bull and so on. Darts now refer to the standard game with a specific bristle board design and a set of rules. Rules that are general to the game and rules that govern games like, “501,” “301,” and “Cricket.”

Darts is a traditional pub game that was and is commonly played in the United Kingdom as well as other places in Europe and across the pond here in the America’s.

Wikipedia tells hits history in a terse form, i.e., “The dartboard may have its origins in the cross-section of a tree. An old name for a dartboard is "butt"; the word comes from the French word but, meaning "target". In particular, the Yorkshire and Manchester Log End boards differ from the standard board in that they have no treble, only double and bullseye, the Manchester board being of a smaller diameter, with a playing area of only 25 cm across with double and bull areas measuring just 4 mm. The London Fives board is another variation. This has only 12 equal segments numbered 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10 with the doubles and triples being a quarter of an inch wide.”

There have been a variety of darts created over the years but the most common today is the tungsten dart. There are electronic darts but for this blog and for my efforts in tossing darts I remain a steel dart fan and enthusiast. I am recommending a book for novice darters but only because it appealed to me and my studies and rest assured most of the dart books out there are outstanding. In short, find one if this one does not fit your needs and get it. I can tell you when I started to play over twenty years ago, before I laid down my darts in 96, I tossed darts for several years without knowing some very important and critical mechanics, etc., of the dart game. As I take up once again my steel darts I have found a fountain of information to help make the game both enjoyable and competitive. Enjoy, diddle for the middle and let the darts fly!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Fist Bump in Dart Arts

Dart Arts Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Well, a good question I asked myself is, “Why do d’artists bump fists?” My search found a lot of different views on the topic with many expressing a lot of angst about doing it but in the end it falls into the etiquette category. 

Historically: I could not find anything definitive on the dart arts fist bump. I did find some information that indicated the fist bump is a gesture similar in etiquette to a handshake or even the high five used in sports. It is also believed as a gesture of both respect and approval of the person you bump fists with. It can be followed by other hand and body gestures in greeting others. 

One source wrote, “It is commonly used in baseball and hockey as a form of celebration with teammates, and with opposition players at the end of a game. In cricket it is a common celebratory gesture between batting partners.” - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fist_bump

The wiki page talks about its beginnings as far back as the late 1800’s as a boxer handshake simply because the normal handshake is not possible while wearing boxing gloves. I kind of like and accept this at least in the boxing world. There is also reference to the early seventies when military persons of color used it as a form of salute to symbolize, “Black Power.” 

There are other sports references such as in basketball, a player in the 70’s did it with another player, etc. What some may not know is that in the animal kingdom anthropologists observed chimpanzees bumping fists and they still don’t know why the chimpanzees do that gesture. Even one of our recent Presidents of the United States used the fist bump at the end of one of many meetings while running for the office. 

There is one belief that hygienically speaking the fist bump reduces skin contact reducing the transfer of bacteria thus being a recommendation as a more hygienic alternative to a handshake or high five. 

So, in the end, it really doesn’t matter why or where it began in the dart arts and it is a good alternative to the handshake, if the parties are in agreement to its use, but it should be limited for etiquette purposes, i.e., before a contest begins and after it ends ONLY. As an aside I would add in the same requirement for expressing when a d’artists tosses most excellent arrows, i.e., often said, “Good Darts!” Leave that for after the game or leg ends while changing out players for the next leg of a game or match. 

Now, personally, I don’t mind the fist bump at all. I assumed when I returned to the discipline that fist bumps were a part of the game etiquette. It took me a little time to stop reaching for the handshake and just bump, lightly, fists but I can see how it promotes good social connections and camaraderie in team efforts. I still feel it is only appropriate before and after a contest and I feel strong it should not be overdone or done during siad contest because all the d’artists want to focus, focus and focus. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Clear Flights - Why?

Dart Arts Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

I like clear flights. I realized although they are out there not many use them and prefer a more personalized flight design, i.e., design as in the design of the decoration rather than the flight shape or configuration. I like clear flights because they don’t distract from my aiming and from targeting when they cover that target. 

When a flight covers your intended target often it means you toss an arrow by strict instinct or you move to see the target better. Moving changes the dynamics of your throw and that means it changes the dart throw. Normally, not a big thing but for me it allows me to continue seeing the target so I can stay in my position and toss another right after the first. 

Clear flights also allow me to see just the straight shaft of the dart so as to align its aiming point in line with the shaft as well as keep it steady and in line with the target through out the entire throw. As long as all the other factors are in alignment this should, and does, result in a good solid dart to the target. 

I liken it to using the shaft without the distraction and obstruction of a decorated flight much like sighting along rear sights and the front sight blade on a rifle. As long as the rear of the shaft is lined up directly behind the shaft and the point you have good alignment to the target.

Sight alignment, sight picture and then dart throw control to hit that target, first time and every time. It also helps to keep the hand, fingers, wrist and so on aligned during the movement of the toss. It’s a tool to achieve a more consistent throw while keeping the body movement at a minimal, outside normal for human movement since you cannot achieve total immobility as a human being. 

Tracking 🎯

Dart Arts Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

When one loses the target, to track back on target. To zero back in. To also track back into tight groups. The compliment to consistency is tracking back on target. Remaining on target is also critical because many times when three are tossed most excellently the next three tend to falter and when they do the first thought comes to mind, to track back on target. 

It reminds me of marksmanship, i.e., sight alignment, sight picture, and trigger control along with many other aspects that make one an expert marksman to which Marines tend to excel. As an expert rifleman I use those skills along with other skills of other disciplines to train, learn and improve my dart arts. I don’t have a method, I have a system of various skills and expertise that contribute collectively to learning and applying dart arts skills. When two very good, old and experienced players of high caliber tell you that you have made some amazing improvements in the short time back in the discipline you can accept the fact that your system is working. The goal is to keep it working for the long haul.

When tracking we have to adjust of things like, rifle marksman symbolism here, windage (in short the way you hold your hand upon release where a turn one way or the other takes things to the left or right of target), elevation (in short, when you release too soon or too late causing the dart to rise higher or lower than the target) and muscle and breath control (where your breathing and its body movement that disturbs the trajectory of the darts).

Yes, there is more to this including body structure, balance and kamae or stance at the oche line so in the end the collective application of the dart arts is considered a very complex process often seen by the uninitiated as simply throwing darts. Keep part of your mind on tracking to hit center mass of your target be it the pie, the double of the all high scoring triple. 

Good Darts 🎯

Dart Arts Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

You hear the often when tasting arrows especially after tossing "Good Darts," but do we really know what good darts are?

Here is what I use to define good darts.
  1. When all three are in a tight grouping at least half the time or more.
  2. When all three darts are in the pie, target, the D'artist is aiming for in competition.
  3. When at least one hits the triple targeted even if the other two miss even the pie.
  4. When one hits the double and one hits the single pie.
  5. When one scores a minimum of sixty points each round of three, or more - that is good darts. 
  6. When the dart or darts - matter!
All too often most d’artists will tell a partner they tossed good darts but in reality, a good amount of time, that is just not true. I understand it may be attempts to boost morale and confidence but if given indiscriminately it tends to be more an insult. It is best to comment good darts when they are good darts. 

We do ourselves and others a disservice when accolades are given in such a way but we foster improvement and confidence when we provide honest, true and accurate accolades for it triggers a mind-state that fosters continued improvement and progress and that is the name of this game. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

DART ARTS: The Pub Venue

Dart Arts Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

It is strange that in years past it never occurred to me that darts is played exclusively in pubs, bars and bowling 🎳 alleys and, this is the part of which I speak, the game for the venue is about selling alcoholic drinks 🍹- duh, Homer Simpson head slap 👋🏼.

If you are a non-drinker, like me, are you welcome and how do the proprietors feel about your playing and not drinking? That and it puts a whole new light on playing darts 🎯 when it is just another income generator where if non-drinkers start to become the majority then why allow darts in the pub?

In days past I was definitely in a minority so small the pub owners did't care because it was known that the drinkers would have non-drinking friends.

Putting the pub owner hat 🎩 on would I want my place of 'business' to allow people who didn't spend money 💰 to just use my place to play a discipline that didn't also generate income? Nope 👎, I would not. I understand the situation and feel bad 😔 that this never occurred to me in the first place. This is especially important if the pub does not serve food, etc., other than drinks. After all, pubs is indicative of drinking and both pool and darts were venues to pull in clientele who - you guessed it - "Drink."

Darts is both a competitive and social discipline thus ideal for pubs to pull in 'paying' customers.

All this and more begs the question, "If a non-drinker should I be playing the game especially since it is done exclusively in pubs, bars and bowling alleys?

This question takes on greater importance when those who participate as non-drinkers start to become a majority as that as an adverse effect on the business.

Personally, I feel bad 😔 because I am a non-drinker and since most d'artists I play with in the league don't drink should I still participate and should the proprietors allow us to participate? I would understand and support them asking us non-drinkers to not use their pubs.

I wonder if a moderate cover charge were imposed at the door 🚪 would alleviate things so we non'ers could still toss darts? I wonder, is there some other way the d'arts could continue outside the pub venue?

I have been racking my mind for alternatives that would keep darts alive but to date have had no success. I am asking myself if I should give it up simply to abide by pub needs toward making the business viable?

Should I ask the pubs where the darts are played if they have a drink minimum requirement and if not don't play there?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

DART ARTS: Vacillation, the Harbinger of Consistency

Dart Arts Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

In world of the dart arts most players will vacillate between a consistent toss and the inconsistency that makes the darts fly off into side pies with low scores. It is the most frustrating aspect of the art of darts and the most critical obstacle one must traverse in order to gain a high degree of consistency in toss arrows. 

A good example is a description of the last two league contests I participated in where the first contest was my absolute best as to hitting the targets consistently except for one minor detail, all the high scores and closes in cricket there was always just one aspect that fell through the cracks. In the ’01’ games I could not hit my out and in the cricket game I faltered on scoring points so although the team threw the best darts ever we still lost. Second contest, we tossed the absolute worse darts ever but when it came down to the end short game we hit all our outs and scored and closed ahead of our brothers in dart arts to win the games, all of them that night.

Now, ain’t that a hoot, we toss bad darts and win then we toss some really good darts and end up losing. It comes down to consistency in tossing arrows with max proficient targeting that includes hitting outs, closing numbers and scoring high. 

Last night we got hit hard with both bad darts and huge losses, i.e., won two out of nine to lose the nights contest overall. Not that our opponents toss their arrows any better but the hit better than we did, bummer. 

I now appreciate it so much more to understand the true challenge in the dart arts, to achieve a solid target rich tossing of perfect darts - consistently, diligently and without all the baggage that comes with the conflict of self and others in a competitive environment. 

I would assess the discipline being 25% physical and 75%  mental, i.e., an adrenal stress-conditioned chemical mess that obfuscates our objectives in such contest. Our minds shift in an instant and our objective to expertise is to overcome the mental obstacles that rise up like a tsunami after an earthquake off shore. 

Some mental obstacles:
  • Positive Attitude:
  • Self-Motivation:
  • Creation of a System rather than setting goals:
  • Using positive self-talk:
  • Using Visual-Imagery:
  • Facing and conquering stressors and anxieties:
  • Emotional Maturity: Understanding frustrations that come with the discipline; acceptance of human fallibility; handling stress thus reducing adrenal effects; Positive relaxation; and FOCUS eliminating distractions and outside influences to remain in the game. 
  • Attitude, Motivation, Commitment, Objectives, Self-Talk, Visual Imagery, Effective tactics for stressors, emotional maturity, and concentration are all mental disciplines that make consistency and proficiency hallmarks and cornerstones of the dart arts.
So, what is the dart’ist to do? There are things you can derive from the above yourself but I would add in the following:
  • Have confidence in your skills: Confidence is the number one objective of your mental preparation. Confidence can be built in many ways, including from practice, preparation, game plans and the mindsets you maintain. To build confidence prior to competition visualize yourself performing successfully, and review all the reasons you have to be a confident athlete.
  • Prepare to cope with adversity: With experience, athletes learn how to cope with any adversity – with situations that could cause them to lose focus, confidence or composure. If you haven‘t experienced many adverse situations, you‘ll have to anticipate the challenges that might affect your mindset, and develop strategies to cope with each.
  • Fully enter the role of the dart’ist: On game day athletes need to set aside any life challenges or hassles, and fully focus on competition.  Use pregame routines to help you transition into the role of a performer such as, listening to music or getting a good stretch in.
  • Focus on execution: What you focus on prior to competition is critical to your mental game success. We teach our athletes where to direct their focus and how to improve their refocusing skills when competing. This helps them maintain focus on executing the present task successfully, rather than dwelling on mistakes or worrying about the outcome.
  • Finalize and commit to your game plan or strategy: In most team sports, athletes are given the game plan. However, athletes who participate in individual sports, such as running, golf, tennis and racing, must develop their own plans and strategies. It is important that you have a game plan and fully commit to prior to competition. Questioning or changing one’s game plan often causes athletes to play tentatively and indecisive.
In short, 
  • Always keep your attitude positive by visually imagining positive images of you playing well, at your very bets.
  • Use power words, positive words have a positive effect and will change the path of your darts.
  • Make your focus tight, narrow and in the present moment so distractions don’t shift your mind and body out of synch with your discipline.
  • Train, train and train some more, make your dart training and practice one that takes advantage of your every skill set.
  • Create objectives that float in nature so that you can learn to change and adjust while going with the flow. 
  • Scan you mind, scan your body and take stock of your attitude as to competitive spirit before, during and after a contest.
  • Detach yourself from the outcome, remain focused on playing the board. You, your darts and the board are the only challenge.
  • Breathe away distractions and use the breathing to relax and focus in on your target, toss and target rich board.
  • Enjoy yourself, have fun, relax and let your body, mind and spirit soar, to do what you have trained and practiced to do.