Friday, March 31, 2006

PPP: Practical Practice Prioritization

You know, when it comes to exercise and weight control and general health matters an activity regmine is very important. But the reality is that most people simply have jam packed lives and cannot dedicate as much time as would be ideal for their bodies to the pursuit of superb fitness. And while a well rounded routine is the best goal, sometimes we simply do not havee that much time and we are either forced to choose to scale the exercise back or skip it altogether. Most people will use the excuse that they do not have time to excercise "properly" so they simply don't do anything. But if they had a sense of exercise priority they would hop on the excersise bike for ten minutes instead of do nothing at all. After all, if you only have 15 minutes to work out the no braainer is cardio. The heart is your most important muscle and you should give it priority. Those biceps can wait!

So why not apply the same thinking to darts practice? I have thought about what areas of my game are weak and I haave put together a prioritized list of whaat I should be working on. This list maay differ for different people mof course, but for me, for now, this is a terrific PPP:

1. 60's: The top priority in my practice routine, these days, is the triple 20. I say this because I cannot hit it with any consistency, and I do not have the confidence to hit it like I have confidence to hit mdoubles and bulls. When I am going for a double, I just KNOW I will hit it. At least with one of three darts anyway, and when I shoot for bulls I reasonably expect to get at least one in there per round. This is the sort of confidence I am seeking with the triple 20. So, before any other practice I am aiming at the 60, or the 'sweet spot' as I call it. My goal is to get 20 of them in there before I move on. The idea behind this being so important has partly to do with the fact that there have been so many league games lately where I have hit consistently low numbers and I am allowing my opponent to get to the doubles sooner than I. I have been playing this game long enough that I should be sinking my score quickly by now and I would expect my average to be significantly higher than it was when I first started. Unfortunately sometimes it is not. Also, I truly believe this to be the key to getting to the 'next level'. My goal for right now is to be able to hit at least one triple 20 per two rounds. That's right: one out of every six darts. This is no where near professional level play but you know what? I think it is a reasonable goal, and achieving this will allow me to win most games in league. It is doable. And the way I am going to achieve this is through sheer determination, and practice. The more 60's I hit, the greater my confidence will be. Soon, according to plan, I will have the same confidence level for 60's as I do for doubles or bulls. The pic below is one of the better rounds from a recent practice session.

2. Doubles: So once you've slugged away at the triple 20 for a while and have added 20 instances of success to your sweet spot confidence fund, you can, as I do, move on to the doubles. Double practice is important. On this every dart player is in agreement. But how important it is depends on a lot of factors. What good are lots of tons if you cannot double out, and what good is being able to hit your doubles if you can never drop your score low enough to have a chance at it? The arguments are good in both directions and for me doubles practice takes a back seat to 60's practice for two reasons. First, I am better at them and have much more confidence in hitting them. Secondly, and most importantly, I do not see improving my doubles to be the key to accessing that next higher level of play. My weakness at the moment is not being able to hit the sweet spot realiably. Thus I only practice doubles if I have enough time, these days. And when I practice doubles, I do so in this order:

  • 16, 8, 4, 2, 1
  • 20, 10, 5
  • 12, 6, 3
  • 18, 9
  • 14, 7
  • 19, 17, 15, 13, 11

This is in the order that I consider them to be important. The pic below shows a recent round that I had just started. I was doing well in the beginning. I hit the 16 first dart, the 8 with the second dart and the third dart went to the 4 but missed (otherwise I'd have snapped a photo of the doubles trick).

3. Bulls: And then, once the doubles have been nailed and I have time for more I shoot 20 bulls. The double bull counts for two hits, and the one caveat to this section of the practice is that I keep practiceing bulls until I have hit at least one double bull. So even if I hit 43 single bulls I cannot stop until I have hit that little red dot in the middle. Bulls are important in both 01 games and cricket. In the 01 games there is a rare occation to go for a bull during the game as a part of your strategy (50 left and one dart in hand), you also always want to win your cork if possible. So it is good to have solid confidence when aiming for the bulls. In the pic below I hit one out of three. That is more or less typical for me. When I am going strong I can usually reliably hit one or two per round. When I'm off, though, boy am I off!

Editor's Note: I took a break from this post and shot a round of bulls and I averaged a little more than one per turn and I had a few hat tricks in there. A HT +1 for that matter. If I can get past the 60's practice then I usually blow through the doubles and bulls vert quickly.

4. Other Triples: It would be nice to someday have the same confidence with the triples ring as I have with the doubles ring so I make a point to throw aa round of triples when time allows for it. I do not do the same order as doubles, obviously. I start with the 19 and work my way down. That way if I only have time for the cricket triples at least I hit the most important ones but if there is time I work my way all the way down to thr triple 1. I have aimed at the triple 1 before in real games. In fact I have aaimed at most triples in real matches at one point or another. 19 through 15 are cricket numbers, 14 through 11 are used if you have 64 through 61 remaining and have two darts in hand, 10 is used for 62 remaining with 3 darts, triple 7 if you have 53 remaining with 2 darts, triple 3 if you have 25 remaining and 2 darts, aand triple 1 if you have 5 remaining. I am not sure about the others at the moment, but I am sure there are uses. Regardless, theere should be no portion of the triples ring that represents difficulty because that is like a chink in your armor.

Can anyone think of uses for these triples: 9, 8, 6, 5, 4, 2?? Any disagreement with the use of the others?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Doubles Trick Finish

Here is a doubles trick I pulled off which also happened to be the three remaining doubles I need to finish a doubles practice session. Normally 15, 13 and 11 are the last three, but I happened to hit my 15 earlier in the session leaving these.

The darts themselves are my old 28 gram GT's. They are wearing Pickup Points, as well as short black GT shafts and Black Widow pear flights. I don't know why I dug these out again, but it has servered to remind me how much I like Bottelsen darts, how much I like tapered barrels and how much I like these darts in particular. Perhaps I'll use them in league coming up. It has also rejuvinated my interest in perfecting the GT Dynamod. More to come on that.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Trouble with Triples

I almost quit last night. The league games were postponed in favor of an impromptu Luck to benefit a long time league member who had a stroke and I was certainly glad to pitch in for that cause. In fact I had decided from the get go that if I won the luck I'd kick in my winnings toward the guys relief fund as well. But I never came close. I won a total of zero games and was out very very quickly. My partner did not help but I do not want that to sound like I am blaming him because that is not the case. We were just both having an off night. I hit nothing worthwhile, except a bunch of bulls that got us back into the cricket game. It came down to 'Next Bull Wins'.

They won.

Anyway, that is not what this post is about. Rather I wanted to comment on the trouble I have with triples. And not just any triples either. The sweet spot. I stopped taking pictures of 120+ shots a long time ago because when I am in form and having a decent practice round I tend to hit them readily. I'll get a ccouple of 60s and a miss somewhere. The miss isn't always the last dart either, or I'd suspect myself of choking. The missing dart I would say is any of the three with equal frequency. I'd raather it were always the last dart!!!

What's that? I wish it were a case of choking? You see, at least then I'd know what the problem is and be able to work toward a resolution. Choking is covered in ample sports psychology texts and I am certain that I'd be able to overcome it. But when any random dart flies off course what can you attribute it to? The idea that some darts are too fat to fit in the triples is a load of crap. Have you ever seen the darts Jim Pike used to use? Besides, look at the pic below. Those are some Unicorn Brass Beauties I got for Xmas from my lovely wife, and are easily the thickest, or near thickest darts I own and as anyone case see there is plenty of space in there for more! Also, that theory doesn't hold water when it is the first dart that misses.

My current working theory on this issue is that I am just not consistent. I know I am capable of the accuracy, two out of three darts in the sweet spot seems to confirm this. And I know I am capable of the prize because I have done it before. There are so many variables, and worse - nested variables - when you step up to the oche. How you hold the dart, how you stand how you follow through I will not name them all. So to overcome that random dart miss one must reduce the variables. Not as easy as it sounds for sure. The only solution is a more intelligent practice session on a more regular basis. I'll think on this for a couple of days.

Incidentally, The Trouble wwith Tribbles is easily my favorite Star Trek: TOS and my favorite DS9 episode.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Reign of the Hat Trick +1

Hat Trick +1 is the term I have come up with to mean a four count in the bulls, in which all of the darts are in the bull somewhere. So two double bulls and then a miss outside the bull doesn't count since it is not a hat trick. Oddly I have had several of these lately but not much else to comment on, performance wise.

The only meaningful HT+1 that I have hit was last Tuesday in league, and while it came in a cricket game that my partner and I eventually lost, it bolstered my confidence for a while. But only a while. I got clobbered by a sandbagger shortly after. And I mean seriouly clobbered. It was almost the darts version of a mugging.

Bear in mind, though, that when I get to choose I always choose to play against the other teams strongest player even when I know in advance that I am out classed. There is no glory in defeating a weaker opponent and there is no honor in avoiding the toughest possible challenge. I am a bit like Lt. Cmd. Worf in this respect. And last Tuesday I died honorably in glorious battle. Happily I was able to choose my opponent.

It was a Singles Chicago match. He won the initial cork and chose to open with cricket. He beat me soundly that game and was 80 points ahead by the second round. I nearly came back in the end by pounding the bulls and ended up with over 100 points but still lost. He was very strong on the triples and I was missing them.

I chose DIDO 301 as the next game. I got in by the second round but I never had a chance. He opened with 48 points, and then hit a ton-40 in the second round, and then took out 113 in the third round. I was very impressed and he exhibited excellent sportsmanship in terms of attitude, etc, but he was still sandbagging the B League. (I say that with a half crooked smile.)

I digress. The subject line of this post claims that there is a reign of HT+1's. I say that because I hit several in the last few days, and several yesterday. Here is another pic of a Hat Trick +1:

Friday, March 24, 2006

My Par-Darts Board

Howdy ynz. Take a look at this board. This heralds the beginning of a new dart obsession for me and that is the collection of interesting boards. If anyone has any interesting boards you'd like to sell, think of me first! Recent good finds for me include a Casino 301, a Snooker board, a Quadro and a couple of Blade MX's. I will post on them as they arrive. Now I will also need to figure out a way to make them easily interchangable! Also, please note the new nav system to the right. I have a section dedicated to my dart collection and to my board collection.

This is a very nice board that looks like it is in virtally brand new condition. Right now it is at the house of a friend in Seattle and I am looking forward to playing on it. It looks like it would be at the very least an excellent practice board, but I bet the whole game is going to be every bit as fun as a regular darts game. This is my first non-clockface board other than the baseball board below. It is certainly my first bristle non-standard board. At some point I am going to figure out how to replace those wires stapled onto the board with embedded blade-like separaters.

Click here for the rules for Par-Darts.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Bowtie

I would like to thank an anonymous commenter from a few posts back for offering this idea. I have tried it and it is a terrific addition, or change rather, to the shanghai practice game I use. Here is a pic first, then I will describe:

First, follow the link above to read anon's comment because it is a good description of the Bowtie. But notice in my pic above I am not going for the doubles. I happened to be doing a round of triples at the time and was taking a break from it with a little shanghai (I will do that sometimes if I am missing the trips badly). Well, normally in shanghai, if your first dart hits the bull then you cannot make a shanghai so you just do a round of bulls practice. In the bowtie situation you go for opposite segments. In the pic above you can see I hit the bull first dart, and then the second dart was aimed at the trip 6. I missed low into the trip 10. So the third dart went for the trip 14 and I hit it. Thus forming a bow tie.

Here you can see the only actual shanghai I achieved in that practice round. These are not the normal darts I use though:

Monday, March 20, 2006

Juergen's Trick Shot

Juergen, a frequent contributer to this blog, sent me this photo of a trick shot he pulled off on Saturday. In addition to hitting his 24th and 25th Ton-80's for the year, that is ;)

I am certain Juergen would be happy to note that there is currently a Ton-80 contest going on over at, based on the honor system. So far I have failed to hit a ton-80 after the inception of the contest but I am hoping to get my name on the board soon. Maybe I just need to come up with a set of PT Purists like everyone else is doing.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Harkening Back to Simpler Times

Lately I have found myself reverting back to behaviors and preferences from a couple years ago. There are two things in particular I am thinking of, the first is that I seem to be migrating back to spinning shafts and the second is that I seem to be preferring to carry almost nothing with me to dart night in the pubs.

When I first started playing, I found the Dynastar shaft and flights on some website, probably edarts, and I ordered some. I stuck them on the darts I had and by gosh I thought they were the cat's meow. Eventually of course I started prefering a completely solid, non-moving dart, so I started using the non-spinning nylons and aluminums. I broke the dynastars back out and I am using them again:

Also, other than the small Unicorn Jiffy dart sharpener I put in my pocket, what you see above is all I ever take with me these days to league when I shoot.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Paper-wound Baseball Board

This would be the first board I ever bought and I bought it before I had any clue whatsoever what to look for in a board. As it turns out paper wound dart boards are lower quality, and they are not a good option for the serious darter. Perhaps if you are looking to get a new person into darts, with not much money, you can pick one of these up on ebay for a dollar, but other than introducing steel tip darts to your friends, I would not recommend paper wound boards.

The fun thing is, though the game itself. This is the only non-clock board I have and the idea is intriguing even if I am not sure what the rules are. I have devised make shift rules while playing this with my wife but the rules were clumsy at best. One of these days I am going to track down the official rules for this game.

I found them!


  1. The player throwing is the pitcher attempting to retire the opposing side without allowing runs. This can best be achieved by carefully pitching at the corners of the plate. Put the pitch over the center of the plate and it's a home run.
  2. Two players or teams can participate. Each team member takes a turn pitching his team's half of an inning.
  3. Each inning is divided into two halves: one for each team. Three outs constitute one-half of an inning. First pitcher is allowed as many pitches as is necessary to get three outs. All runs scored against him are credited to the other team. When he has made three outs the other player pitches his half of the inning.
  4. Usual rules of baseball apply. Three "strikes" for an "out". A "foul ball" counts as a "strike" but not as a third strike. Any pitch that misses the "plate" (target zone) is ruled a "ball". Four balls to a batter constitute a "walk" and the batter is awarded first base.
  5. Runs are scored by players rounding the basses and crossing home plate. Runs must be forced over to score.
  6. At the conclusion of the regulation number of innings, the team with the most runs is the winner.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

FP Mega Thrusts

For as long as I have been playing darts I have been aware of Bottelsen and the awesome darts the produce and sell. However, this whole time I never paused to consider that perhaps they have not always produced their current line and may have once offered fixed point versions of some of their more popular darts that now are only offered as MP systems. Well, one day while I was kicking about ebay I saw an odd dart that appeared to be a Mega Thrust, but was FP!!

I have been using these darts in League for the last couple of weeks and I have been loving them. I would rather that they were a couple grams heavier, though and it is making me seriouly consider getting the 24 gram version of the modern Mega Thrust. I have a new idea for an awesome conversion point that will make the dart fixed point to the naked eye. Not sure if I will or not, though. Gotta wait and see how these current 22 grammers pan out.