Friday, August 19, 2005

Switching Flights

Funny how droughts come and go. I have not been able to hit the trip 20 recently to save my life.

When you have been playing for a few years it is difficult to know what to point your finger at as a cause for suddenly loose groupings and failing accuracy. On the one hand you have enough experience to know the theory behind the throw, and even a little unrefined skill. You will have had periods of superb darts and so you know you CAN hit the trip 20 consistently, even if you cannot always do it. But on the other hand, just a few years of play is not enough (for me anyway) to reach that level of Mastery that allows for the 'expectation' of hitting the trips you aim for. But merely you have the confidence that it is possible, and you are doing your best to push the possible towards probable.

In the last couple of weeks I have been 26ing myself into a bout of worry. I have tried many things to snap out of it, most importantly sticking with a single set of darts as best I can. I have modified my Random Practice Script to return only games and not darts, I have re-examined my form and grip and stance. I have tried looking for failings in my mental game and improving the confidence aspect. None of these things worked. Switching flights DID work, however!

I switched from the top dart to the bottom dart and suddenly started hitting more trip 20's. Consistently, too. A few Ton-40's but at least one every few rounds or more. Go figure.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Tricks for Kicks

I had a terrific practice day yesterday. Okay maybe it wasn't terrific but it had a few good points. I used my new program to generate a list of random practice games with random dart sets and I ended up with at least two sets of Bulls practice. I call that "20 Bulls" since all I do is throw at the bull till I hit 20 of them and then move on to the next practice game. I finished both of those practice games in style: with Hat Tricks. The first game was with the 25 gram Crossfires that you see in the first pic. The second was with the 25 gram Great Whites that you see in the second pic. Click on the photos for closeups. Note that both tricks are 4-counts.

One thing I have noticed so far about the perl script I am using is that, even though it is technically random, it seems to favor a handful of dart sets. I am thinking about re-writing it so that it will use a set and then remove it from the array until the array is empty and then start over. That way it will cycle through all of the darts randomly. However, within a few weeks I hope to actually have my new darts from Canada, as well as be on a league team, so I will likely just use the f switch all the time for practice. That way I am sure to always be using the new darts.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Mathing Your Oche

I decided on blue masking tape. Actually in the beginning I just decided to use tape again since the black electrical tape worked well at the old place, and comes up easy not leaving a mark on the floor. Any residue cleanable with something like 409. So when I wandered into the basement to find it I saw this stuff sitting on top a shelf, left over from painting. I thought, Hey. It's medium stickiness so should come up pretty easy, it is wider than the electrical tape, and is nicer looking.

Putting the oche down also gave me the chance to double check my math. The 7' 9.25" is supposed to be from the face of the dartboard, not from the wall, so adding this distance to the thickness of the board and backboard combo I get 7' 11.75". But then subtracting the thickness of the baseboard and cord a round I really end up with 7' 10.5", which as I'd measured before, really DOES correspond exactly to a line in the hardwood floor. Nice to have an official oche anyway.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Practice Script Improvements

I have added a few features to the perl script I posted a few posts back. Here they are:

1. An additional array for your favorite darts. So I know that most folks have a lessened affinity for switching between multiple dart sets between games, and most people in fact stick to a single set or two. Thus I have added an array in which you can list these few (or one) sets called @priority_sets and provided a way to call it with a switch. Simply include an 'f' anywhere on the command line after the name of the program. 'f' stands for 'favorite darts'. Example: $ f

2. Args act like switches. Instead of now having to have a number followed by a space followed by the 'f', you can specify the number of games and put your 'f' in any order and spaces do not matter. So these are all equivalent: 10 f 10f fav10 f 10

3. Doubles array. I added an array to be picked from randomly that holds different ways of practicing your doubles. Clockwise, counter-clockwise, up, down, etc. This of course is only called when doubles is selected as the game to play.

Note on arrays: the arrays in this prog are written with one element on each line on purpose. This way you can comment out dart sets that have fallen from grace or which you wanna set aside for what ever reason. Notice in the pic to the righ I have commented out two of the fav sets so that when I use the 'f' switch I always end up throwing with the Bombs.

Alias for "quickie" and "practice" modes: Add this line to your profile (on a Mac: /etc/profile) so that you can just type 'quickie' at any prompt without having to worry about what the pwd is. As you can see form the pic below you can use the f switch with these as well:

alias quickie='/Users/robert/projects/random/'
alias practice='/Users/robert/projects/random/ 10'

Thursday, August 11, 2005

New Digs

So these are my new digs. Once again in the new house I have arrange the darting area in the same room as my office which works out nicely because it is long and narrow. I like the new setup a hell of a lot better than the old place though even though it is smaller. There is nothing new here, just a different environment, although I think I am going to by an oche if I can find one that doesn't have the name of a beer on it. Otherwise I'll just put black electrical tape on the floor again. I don't have an oche now but I still dart because I have measured it and the 7'9.25" corresponds to a line in the hardwood floor.

One of my favorite things about the new dart room is that I can attach the backboard to the wall with screws (which you can see if you zoom in on the picture). In the old place I had it hanging by a chain and so the board would wobble shift and move from time to time. Now the board is solid and I can just yank the darts out with little worry. I think I brought the number ring with me but I am not sure. I never use it anyway.

Another difference is that I never really had a place to keep all my dart crap before, whereas now I have a shelf. Zoom in and you can see the contents: my plastic jars of flights, the only dart trophy I ever earned in league, a wooden box with shafts and othe miscellaneous, a gram scale (I actually use that for backpacking more than darts) . My books will go in here too, when I find them.

One of the nice features of this setup is the glass-block window right by the board. Makes for terrific natural lighting during the day and the sill is the perfect length for my dart holder.

When there is no daylight to guide my arrows I rely on this fifties-looking psuedo tracklight. The room originally had one of those funky Japanese lantern type globes hanging from the ceiling but it gave off no light and got in the way of the dart line of sight. So I replaced it with lights I could aim at the dartboard. Works extremely well.

As always, click the image for a larger picture.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Perl Program

Those of you who have a Perl compiler, and like to randomize everything (like I do) might enjoy this little perl script I wrote last night during the Mariners game. It basically generates a practice routine for you that is different every time. It takes one argument, and that is the number of practice games you wanna play. You will obviously need to change the content of the arrays to suit your dart collection and your favorite practice games, but this little program will certainly "keep it fresh" for you.

The usage is as such: $ ./ 9

In this example '9' is the single argument indicating that you'd like a list of nine random practice games. The default argument is 1. So if you just type '' at the prompt with no argument at all it will give you a single practice game.

This is what the output looks like:

========================= begin
#! /usr/bin/perl

$sets = $ARGV[0] || 1;

@dart_sets = (
'27g Razors',
'24g Merv Kings',
'16g Unicorns',

@practice_games = (
'Three 101\'s',
'SIDO 501',
'DIDO 301',
'Paul Williams Challenge',
'20 Bulls',
'20 Sixties',

for ($i=1; $i <= $sets; $i++) {

$index1 = rand @dart_sets;
$darts = $dart_sets[$index1];

$index2 = rand @practice_games;
$game = $practice_games[$index2];

print "$i. play $game with $darts\n";

========================= end