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!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Wheel Chair Darts

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

We have d’artists who shoot from wheel chairs. It didn’t occur to me that the dart arts may have some requirements for our chair d’artists but they do. First, here is an article on the subject from the Darts501.com folks: 

When I read the article it came to me that in our league it is possible to set up at least one board for wheel chair and average d’artists, i.e., the regular board set up with an addition of another board at wheel chair height underneath the regular board. 

There is also, as displayed below, a dual wall board setup for a fixed wall mount that can be implemented so wheel chair d’artists can play on a more even field with able bodies players. Those who require the use of crutches and canes use the standard setup. 

Please note that the rear wheels are used so that the persons
body is in the same position that a standing person has
when standing at the oche line. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

DARTS: Sight Alignment and Sight Picture

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

In the Marines we learned all about the rifle and one of the most famous of traits Marines have is the ability to learn to shoot and to develop deadly skills to hit what we aim at over long distances. This is how that translates into shooting darts well. 

In marksmanship, Marine Style, we learn a skill called, “Sight alignment and sight picture.” This is shouldering the weapon, assuming a proper body position, then with a dominant eye we look through the rear aperture, sight, find the front sight blade and center it in that aperture and finally center the front sight on the intended target. 

In the dart arts we approach the oche line, set our stance, position the body with proper structure and alignment for a solid stance and balance of the body. We then use the same principle by using our throwing arm like the rifle. Elbow down, forearm in a horizontal position, the hand holding the dart so the flight becomes the aperture, the shaft the extension of the rifle and the front of the barrel or point as the front sight blade. All of that aligns and we aim at the intended target. All that is left is to shoot. 

Dart Release

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

Take your dart-kamae, stance, set your body, take aim then throw. Now, that seems a bit simplistic because there are a whole store chock full of physiokinetic aspects to tossing solid, consistent, arrows or darts. 

But, in a nutshell if you take a kamae at the oche line and perform your prefect dart throw, without a dart, as if you were throwing at a specific target but when the throw is complete your index finger of the throwing arm is pointing at the intended target then you have the beginnings of a throw where you can discover a dart release.

What you do is when you practice this way to achieve a consistent target rich throw you add in the dart but in lieu of pointing the finger you follow through and the point where you would point the finger you release the dart, as if it was your finger that would follow the trajectory to the target while you hand and fingers, etc., continue with, “The Follow Through.” 

Note that the action of the throw, the arm, must be smooth all the way through, it must have a rhythm of smooth action that when you practice you will feel the other fingers the hold the grip on the dart will follow through while the index finger points. Naturally when you add the actual dart with the proper grip for you that when releasing will naturally add the index follow through to the other fingers, get it?

Remember that the arm must fully extend, not hyperextend, and this goes for the shoulder, elbow, wrist and fingers. You must achieve a state of positive relaxation through the entire process from the feet at the oche line, the body structure, etc., to the arm position elbow down, wrist relaxed and all the movements that achieve the d’artist perfect throw. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

DARTS: Effortless Effort

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

There are physiokinetic aspects that must be achieve to perform well in the dart arts. This goes without saying that the mind is paramount to achieving those aspects. The two are mutually beneficial and connected much like the symbolism of the Chinese Yin-Yang. 

Motion must be natural, smooth, relaxed skillful. This can be achieve only with proper practice of intention. If you step up to the oche line and just toss out the darts you are not going to achieve your objective of dart-mastery. You must have an intention such as my recent article on, “Making the Rounds.” 

You have to, “FEEL things” in a positive relaxed state of body and mind to throw well. You have to feel that state of relaxation through the entire process from taking to the oche line until you release the dart to seek out its intended target. 

You must breath for breathing reduces and combats the effects of the adrenal chemical dump. This dump causes things like loss of fine motor skills. When it comes to a relaxed throw from the hand the motions involved meet the criteria of find motor skills. They tend to disappear ruining a dart throw so breathing before, during and especially after each throw goes a long way to keeping your skills sharp.

Another ill effect to your darts is the adrenal effect of a loss of peripheral vision. It is this vision that keeps your body through out the throw connected with and conscious on a unconscious instinctive like way of where your arm is, your body, and your hand and dart while throwing and releasing. Losing even a small part of that ability hinders good solid consistent darts. 

Yet another visual effect of this dump is tunnel vision and that goes with peripheral vision for one is lost completely in the tunnel and you miss out on how you throw to detect and correct errors. 

Lets talk about distorted perceptions, depth perception alteration and behavioral looping. When the dump hits what you perceive tends to fall short of reality so breathing properly as described combats this and as to depth perceptions that changes the way you throw because your target may not be exactly where you aim to hit. Here again, breathing. 

Behavioral looping is that action you take where your mind says to you, I threw this way last time and hit my target so when you miss this time you stubbornly assume that if you throw again and again it will find its way but in truth you may have to change targets. 

It’s like I try for the triple twenty and for what ever reason miss by a mile then it might be best to simply change targeting, say to the triple 19 where more often than not I hit my target/mark. 

All of these things hinder good darts and breathing, focus, concentration and lots of practice help you to keep the resulting stress and strain from causing muscle to tense up and do strange and bizarre things. 

You have to feel an almost total lack of any muscular strain, even a little except what is required to move and toss the dart. You have to feel it through the entire process to achieve proficiency in the dart arts throw. 

Might be the example of the bull whip and the ability to crack the whip would convey the need for an effortless effort. Visualize the limpness of the bull whip and then how best to make that whip crack so loud it startles those around you, even you. It is like being surprised each and every time because the whip moves effortless and relies on the hand and arm to make it work. Think of your body holding is complete stillness with not a bit of stress, it simply is in a state of relaxed stillness then think of the arm are the hand holding the whip and the movement of the arm, wrist, hand and fingers as the body of the whip while the dart leaving your hand the tip of the whip snapping out there to crack the air. That dart will not hit the target if the hand and fingers stiffen or don’t relax enough to fully freely move as the limp whip to toss the dart properly to the target. 

Effortless effort first starts in the mind for any distractions of the mind from outside or inside can cause ripples in the pond that should be as still as glass making it a mirror. Breathing along with relaxation techniques much like those used in meditation relieve the tension and result in stillness without tensions. 

One cannot achieve a still in the present moment mind with any stress, tension or tightening of the mind for the mind effects the body as the body effects the mind. To be effortless one must feel the body for any tensions or stresses then breathe and mindfully relax the muscles to be like the whip.

Breathing and then focusing on the facial muscles, the neck muscles and then the shoulder and upper chest muscles are key. If you feel any tension or stress on those areas breathing and mindfully relaxing those areas will effect the rest of the body thus in the process relax the mind.

A positively present moment relaxed meditative mind leads the body to the same state as does a positively relaxed meditative body leads the mind to the same state in return, a mutual beneficial mind-body connection. To be effortless in your efforts is to be relaxed positively and that gives you the benefit of minimal energy consumption and maximum energy conservation so one can participate in the dart arts in a relaxed positive state of body-mind/mind-body.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Making the Rounds

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

There are a variety of practice models to lean, improve and master the dart arts. One of my favorites is to, “Make the Rounds,” that is simply the same as the, “Round the Clock Game.” Start with the number 1 and step through to 20 then close out with the bull. 

Start with the larger pie. Most don’t practice the pies and tend to focus on the major triples and the doubles do get their favorite outs. That is putting a lot into achieving the goal of your favorite numbers and outs where in my view the ability to hit any target successfully and consistently is providing more avenues then one’s favorites. 

Go for making the rounds and you are practicing to hit every part of the board. Starting, as we already indicated, the large pies from 1 to 20, shift to the smaller pies that are closest to the bull, then on to the double ring and finally the triple rings. 

I start out by tossing all three darts to each pie with a goal of hitting it once minimum. Later, as my targeting improves along with the all important throw, I try to hit them all with just one dart and one dart only. I do this, as I assume others do, to teach myself to hit my targets on the first throw so I can use the other two darts on other targets. In cricket I would find it most satisfying to hit with the first dart the triple 20, second dart triple 19 and the third dart triple 18. Then the same with 17, 16 and 15 with a close out of double bull and single bull. The ultimate objective of the Cricket game.

Of all the practice models I find making the rounds the most, “Well Rounded, in developing a solid consistent target-rich throw and once I achieve the objective of consistently hitting the pies and double/triples with just one dart I would vary it by:
  • Start with 1 and follow the numbers to 20.
  • Start with 20 and follow the numbers in reverse to 1. 
  • Start with any number and choose any other number randomly.
  • Start with 1 to hit the big pie, the little pie, the double then the triple and follow the numbers in this fashion up to 20.
  • Reverse the last from 20 to 1. 
Keep it exciting and always remember that in practice you have to have a purpose, intent, to the throwing of each and every dart to improve and reach a master d’artist level of the dart arts. 

Oh, lets not forget all the other factors necessary to achieve success in this particular practice model of the oche line, the stance (kamae), the physiokinetic structure and alignment, etc., of the body, the arm and the actual throw (aiming through sight alignment and picture; the arm position and structure; the hand (relaxed, positive relaxation, the limber relaxed wrist, the limber flex and extension of the fingers, the pointing follow through and so on).

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Front Sights: Dominant Eye -n- Targeting

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

Aiming the dart is much like aiming a rifle where one sets the dominant eye behind the rear sights, the flight in the dart, then looks down the rifle, the barrel of the dart, and then aligns the front sight blade, the front of the barrel or the dart point depending on how you hold the dart, then placing the front sight and aligning the entire thing to the dart target, i.e., like the triple 20, etc.

You find your dominant eye sometimes by the fact of being right or left handed, but not all the time for many players toss arrows with the right hand while using the left, dominant, eye to aim and throw the dart. A simple test is to put the dart about an inch in front of the right eye, or left if you wish, then take aim by aligning the dart to a target then close the right, or left, eye … did the dart flight move? If so, that is your dominant eye. Note that both eyes are open until you do the test, test both eyes to make sure then use the dominant eye to take aim.

Watch expert rifle marksmen, often even a left dominant eye will still shoot as if right handed, i.e., stock to right shoulder and right hand in trigger, while using the left dominant eye to take aim. As a Marine I shot expert by using the dominant eye. 

Now, add this into your efforts to find your darts, the perfect throw. This is just another of those details that the mind, body and spirit of the d’artist must find and train, train, train to achieve mastery over the dart-arts. 


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

In the dart-arts we have milestones, milestones in that certain targets and their results, i.e., score -n- close/scoring, etc., make for what are called, “Highlights.” The major one is hitting three darts in the triple 20 ring for 180 points. Another, secondary, is the trip 19’s for a 171 score. 

Another is the bulls eye, the very center double-bull area, where three darts in that area is called a, “Hat trick.” Then there is the highlight of hitting a score of 100 or more points with three darts and in the cricket game hitting three darts where one in the triple and two in the pie is a highlight of C-5 with a maximum of any closing area of a C-9, i.e., all three darts in the triple with one caveat, the opponent must not have closed that section, i.e., 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15 and bulls. 

There is one more highlight that is not as obvious or recognized by the dart world, the brim-shot. The brim shot is about hitting all three darts in the secondary, single-bull, area. It is as if you hit the brim of the hat rather than the top of the hat for a hat trick. 

This is called, “Snapping the Brim!” In a ‘Boater Hat’ you have a flat top hat with a flat brim which best describes the double-single bull configuration as if viewing it from the top/sky. Snapping its brim is to turn it down sparingly or as in the dart arts you snap the brim down sparingly much like a wearer who reaches up to pull down the brim first from the front then with two hands on each side sliding the fingers along the front of the brim to form it properly. In darts, you hit, pin the brim, with the three darts in the brim, single bull, area. 

Brim shots are, “snapping the boater brim with three arrows!”

"Snapping the Boater Brim!"

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bull Practice

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

Practice, practice, practice is the only way toward mastery of any discipline as long as it is with intent, intent to hit the target consistently in the dart arts is that kind of practice. Then there are other objectives that provide the way toward that expertise, i.e.,
  • Targeting: to hit the intended target with consistency and accuracy.
  • Targeting: those targets often ignored in the dart arts such as hitting the bull.
  • Targeting: variety as in doubles, triples and most of all “The Pie.” The large and small pie segments not the double and triple ring. 
  • Grouping: to toss all three arrows to the target but in a group as tight as possible.
  • Targeting: to hit all three arrows, darts, in the intended target, i.e., the triple 20 for instance where the objective is to put all three darts into the tripe space/ring with each point as close as possible.
These are a few examples but one target often ignored in practice is the bull’s eye. You have a single bull and the double bull ring that holds space in the exact center of the board. As can be seen by the below snapshot, you can see by the loss of material in the center along with all the dart point impressions in what material is left at the center of the board. 

Another reason I advocate the practice, a lot, of hitting bulls is the process can bring you back in line with the best throw, your perfect throw. Another reason to target the board area’s with an eye that creates, visualizes or creates a visual imagery, of the smallest area to put the point of your dart to when targeting in the actual throw. The narrow mind-state promotes the tactile and physiokinetic applications of methods necessary to train the brain, the mind, to trigger proper actions for your prefect throw regardless of the target or targeting. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Awareness in the Dart Arts

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

Awareness in self; awareness in others; environmental awareness, i.e., awareness in competitive environments as to how others toss their arrows and compete in the various games and so on is - Dart Arts Awareness. 

You really do have to pay attention to your self in mind, body and spirit. 
  • What is your mind doing when you toss arrows?
  • What and where is your minds focus with tossing arrows?
  • Is your mind-state a calm and clear one?
  • Are you experiencing any of the adrenal stress effects such as loss of fine motor skills that can be devastating to your throw?
  • etc. etc. etc.
  • What is your body doing when you approach the oche line?
  • What does your body feel like when you approach, set at and assume your stance at the oche line?
  • What effects are your body feeling from any adrenal stress effects?
  • Is your body still?
  • Is your body stable?
  • Is your arm the only part moving when you toss the arrows?
  • etc. etc. and etc.
  • How do you feel at the different locations in the dart art environment, i.e., 
    • while waiting your turn;
    • while walking up to the oche line;
    • while setting your body and mind at the oche line;
    • when preparing to toss the arrow(s), etc.
  • How are you feeling and what can you feel in your mind and body in preparation for and tossing the arrow(s)?
  • Are you committed to tossing well?
  • Are you committed to your objectives in the dart arts?
  • etc. etc. etc.
All those things that set up your mind, body and spirit to toss the perfect darts and to be successful in tossing perfect games be they “01” or “Cricket.” 

In addition, once you enter the arena take note and become aware of that environments conditions, i.e.,
  • Is the environment crowded?
  • Is the environment noisy?
  • Is the environment hot, cold or some other less optimal condition?
  • Is the board/competitive area set up with adequate space, etc., for the comfort of competition?
  • Is the score keeper following proper scoring etiquette and if not, are you preparing your mind to deal with those obstacles.
  • Are you getting into a mind-set and mind-state to compensate for any environmental conditions that may effect how you toss your arrows?
  • etc. etc. etc.
As you can readily perceive in this article, although not comprehensive to awareness as a whole, that your awareness is something that will support and effect your participation in the dart arts both positive and negative depending on how well you remain and deal with such things. 
  • Are you aware of your health? 
  • Are you aware of how you fueled your body before the contest?
  • Are you aware of and prepared to deal with fuel for the body during the event?
  • Are you hydrated and do you have proper hydration for the entire event? 
  • Are you well-rested?
  • Did you practice and train adequately in preparation?
More on how awareness of your discipline and dart arts make the difference in the outcome of tossing arrows in a competitive environment. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

DARTS: Fingers

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

The d’artists fingers are important to the throw. They provide the final thrust and contribute to a more relaxed arm, i.e., shoulder, upper arm, elbow, forearm, wrist, hand and fingers. Finger positioning on the dart especially as they cock and push the dart throughout the entire toss. 

As the d’artists begins his throw the elbow remains steadfast in proper position, the hand and forearm begin its journey back toward the eyes while the wrist and hand gently float backward while the fingers, flex and bend, back into the palm of the hand as if coiled springs being compressed building up energy so when the arm, hand and fingers reach the tipping point the mind releases energy so that the entire arm flexes, stabilizes and extends until a point of no return when the fingers spring forward and out, past the release point and in the follow through so the dart, arrow, can travel the proper trajectory to the target of the board. 

The key is the fingers for if they don’t do their job no matter how well the rest is done the arrows will miss, by sometimes the very width of the board spider-wires, the target. It is the fingers as springs, spring boarding the arrow on its path and way, that launch arrows true. It is the fingers that allow the arm, body and mind to remain in a positively relaxed state combating the adrenal effects of competitive stressors so the arrows, the darts, will fly as if born with wings on air currents following through to any, any, intended target of the board. 

The fingers are the controls not just the spring board for their position and tension along with stabilization hold the arrow true and straight into the path that leads directly to the target. It is the toughest to discover and the toughest to train toward a consistency that makes the d’artist a great dart arts practitioner. 

It takes often months to years for a true d’artist to find not just their throw but to train the fingers to do their part controlling everything in that moment of spring release, launching the dart and hitting the objective - the intended target. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Dart Diet

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

As with any discipline what you input as fuel must be such that it feeds the body-mind toward optimal performance for the d'artist.

What is an optimal performance diet?
  1. Eliminate sugar.
  2. Remove cereals, pasta's and other processed foods.
  3. Remove starches, cheeses, and many milk products.
  4. No processed vegetable oils.
  5. Restrict carbs.
  6. Eat only good fats.
  7. Eat fresh local grown fruits and veggies.
  8. Eat proper adequate amounts of proteins.
  9. Eat organic local grown meat and eggs.
  10. Supplement vitamins, etc.
This is far from a comprehensive list and in fact one should consult a dietary professional who specializes in sports nutrition. The goal here is to convey the importance of diet for fuel especially since the higher levels of competition can be grueling marathon’s of tossing arrows. The above list should be only about information and direction leaving the research up to the d’artist.