Friday, April 15, 2005

Even Weighting: The Skinny Pencil

I would say that the even weighted dart is hands down the most common barrel style in the darting world. It is in its simplest form an unadorned shaft with a point. Given how little lathe work is required to make such a barrel it does not surprise me that they are so common. The darts below are both Fixed Point. The first is a 28 Gram Laserdarts Blackwidow and the second is a 24 Gram Dart Freak from Mueller Sports.

More Skinny Pencils: Of the three below, only the second is not Fixed Point. The first dart is a 22 Gram Halex Tungsten which was bought at Fred Meyer's. The second is special. It is a highly modifiable dart from Voks from their "Soft-Steel" series, so named because you can switch from soft tips to steel tip, and swap out the insert to achieve a heavier or lighter dart depending on your preference. In the photo below it has the tungsten insert and the steel tip and weighs in at about 18 Grams. The last dart is a 15 Gram Red Dragon Featherlite.

As always, click the image for a larger picture.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A Rare 9 Count

Being the B League caliber player that I am, it is rare that I hit the same triple three times in a row. I have only hit three Ton-80s in my darting life. Here you can see that I hit the trip 19 three times in one round during practice one night. Needless to say I was thrilled and whipped out the camera immediately. The only other nine count that I remember hitting (not including any ton-80s) was one night after league. We were at a tavern called the Knarr, the match was done and we were just hanging out shooting more darts. In a game of cricket, I had a less than spectacular first round, and then in my second round, I borrowed my teammates Laserdarts Black Eagles and proceeded to hit Trip 20, Trip 18, Trip 19 in that order. The best part? Witnesses, of course.

As always, click the image for a larger picture.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Middle Weighting

Middle weighted darts typically have a slight bulge somewhere mid barrel as seen in the darts pictured here. This is my least favorite barrel style due to the weight dynamics of the dart. It is often difficult for me to come up with the optimal shaft and flight combo to match the barrel. I think there is also a lot of gray area in determining what is middle weighted and what is not. Sometimes the widening of the dart occurs close enough to the front that it appears to be a taper, or at least be mostly front tapered, as in the first dart pictured below. Other times the bulge is slight enough that the overall impression of the barrel is that of a Pencil style dart. The Crossfire is a good example of that, as are many soft tip darts. Sometimes the barrel has so much going on that you don't know what to make of it (also exemplified by the Crossfire below).

These darts in the first picture are: (top) 27 gram FP Harrows Axis and (bottom) 25 gram FP Crossfire by (I think) DMI. I found it on the Shooter's Edge site and tracked it down through a different seller for about half price (as I did with the Warrior).

The first dart in the following picture is the architype of the middle weighted barrel. The bulge is non-trivial and the barrels tapers to the front and back almost evenly. This is a nice looking dart and if you find a good shaft and flight combo for it, it feels very good to throw. However, finding a good shaft length and flight size is quite difficult. I have pretty much settled on the short shaft (although this is counter-intuitive) and a standard dimplex flight (which is to be expected). The fantail flights also work quite well on this dart but only with a short shaft. I have also used a long aluminum shaft with good results, but such a stem requires either a standard flight or a spiraline. The top dart in the picture is the 24 gram FP 20/20 from Mueller Sports.

The second dart shown is sold as a soft tip dart that I have converted to steel with the contoured aluminum points you see in the photo. It is a 17 gram Halex Silversoft with a Micro aluminum shaft and spiraline flights. I used to hate this dart until my finger placement moved forward. Now that my forward finger rests on the point of the dart I do better with it.

As always, click the image for a larger picture.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Forward Weighting: The Bulge

In the end, front loading is front loading. A tapered dart is simply a forward bulge dart whose bulge smoothes into the rest of the barrel evenly. All of the advantages of the taper dart are also true of the forward bulge dart. There is a lump of metal near the front that you wrap your fingers around, providing an excellent and consistent grip, the weight distribution of the dart reduces wobble and allows for a flatter trajectory.

All of the darts pictured below are front loaded, but only two are true front bulge darts. The first is a 23 gram Fixed Point Warrior from, I think, DMI. I saw them first on the Shooter's Edge website and tracked them down from there. These are some of my favorite darts. They are very unique in that the stem is mostly incorporated into the barrel, and you just use the tips of the spinster shafts, which push fit into the end of the barrel. These darts would be considered tapers if it weren't for the depression mid barrel. There are very very nice darts.

The second, as you can tell, is not a true front bulge dart but it is front loaded by virtue of having a tungsten front on a mostly brass barrel. This is one front weighted dart that requires some attention to always have the same grip since you are relying on knurling to hold the barrel. These are 21 gram FP Harrows Rhinos. They are not my favorite dart by any stretch. They are too light for my taste and the barrel is a tad thick. After my first season in Seattle my team had done poorly and so we were invited to a "tournament of losers." These darts were third prize. I came in fourth, but the first place winner, a friend of mine, opted not to take a prize.

The third set is a set of true blue forward bulge darts in the classic style. This is a very reliable set of darts due to the bulge being the perfect size and shape for wrapping my three fingers around it. This ensures I have a consistant grip everytime. These are 24 gram FP Smooth Laserdart KC's.

As always, click the image for a larger picture.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Forward Weighting: The Taper

Even though tapered darts are by far my favorite barrel style, I only have two sets. The first is 28 gram Smooth Black Bottelsen GTs. The second is 24 gram Smooth High Tek Bombs. There are elements of each dart that are very good and elements from each that I do not like. I'd prefer fixed points on the GTs and from time to time I put conversion points on them but that destroys the esthetic. The coating comes off very easily and the forward portion had rubbed off within a few weeks of having them and now, after almost three years, the coating is faint and almost entirely gone. The sstems are improved now that they offer the screw in variety, but before they were attrocious. Horrible push in jobs that wobbled and shook loose after every other throw. I will not be buying any more GT's as I have just heard from them that they have no plans to make a fixed point version. Nonetheless, until I can have a special set custom made by some lathe jockey, this is my favorite set of darts.

The Bombs are nice darts. I paid about 85 dollars for the Bottelsen GTs, and about 18 dollars for the Bombs, and they are nearly the same dart. The Bomb is fixed point which is better, but the GT's have a more salient taper which is a the key ingredient, thus giving them the edge. The Bombs suffer in this regard because they can only taper down to a certain width since they need a 2ba stem. The GT's have a very narrow threaded opening for their proprietary stems, which are more expensive and harder to get. The Bombs have the advantage in this regard because you can get 2ba stems anywhere and in a variety of lengths ans styles. The Bombs are 24g which is a better weight, but the GT's have such a superb weight distribution that the extra gramage is not noticed.

One nice feature of the tapered dart is that you grip it around the front most portion, where the taper begins. Making for a very solid no-slip grip. Thus no knurling or rings nor any other gripping texture is necessary.

As always, click the image for a larger picture.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Art of the Barrel

As the first real request I have gotten for blog content was regarding barrels, I decided to do a series of blog entries discussing various barrel styles and what I like and don't like about them. As you can see from the photo below, I personally own a variety of weights and shapes of barrels. My weights range from 28 to 15 grams and I use both fixed and moving points. My darts can be divided into three weight distribution styles: Forward Weighted, Middle Weighted, and Even Weighted. The forward weighted darts are either Tapered or Forward Bulged, my middle weighted darts all have a slight bulge somewhere mid barrel, and the even weighted darts are either Thin Pencil or Fat Pencil. Future posts will take a closer look at the individual styles so I won't go into detail here.

As always, click the image for a larger picture.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Requests Welcome

I received a number of requests lately for specific pics, etc. on the blog, so I figured I'd open it up for everyone. Any requests out there?