Selecting a Set of Darts

DartsWhen you set out to buy your first set of darts, it may seem like a pretty simple task. They’re just darts, right? It can’t be that complicated. On the contrary, there are several things to take into account to find the right set of darts.

To the beginner, all the terminology, options, and variety can be a little daunting. Many people aren’t aware that dart components can be purchased separately, allowing the player to build darts to suit personal preference and skill level. The good news is we’re here to help.

Darts vary widely in quality, and therefore, in cost. Before you select a set of darts, you should have a basic understanding of what’s available and how each component of the darts functions. This will allow you to make the best choice without falling for any sales gimmicks and without spending more than necessary.

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A good resource for information about darts is someone who plays the game professionally, in a league, or just on a regular basis at the local pub. Some unscrupulous stores are going to steer you toward the more expensive darts, regardless of your experience or skill level but a good store will have at least one dartboard set up where you can try out a few sets of darts. The goal is to educate yourself as well as possible before making a purchase, starting with the basic dart components.

Tips

Dart tips are divided into two main categories—soft tip, and hard or steel tip. Soft tip darts have dull, plastic points and are used on electronic dart boards that tally the score automatically. They’re not as dangerous as steel tip darts, but still require a bit of caution when throwing to avoid injury or damage of property. Steel tips, also known as points, are used in the traditional version of darts, and are thrown onto boards made of cork, sisal or coiled paper. Soft tip darts don’t really require maintenance. They’re easily replaced if they bend or break. Steel tips are a bit more expensive to replace, but can be sharpened when they dull, extending their life and saving you money.

Barrels

The barrel is the part of the dart you hold to throw it, and comes in a few different shapes. Which one you choose really comes down to personal preference and, most importantly, what feels right in your hand. You should always try darts out before you buy them to get a sense of what feels right in your hand. The barrel surface is covered with knurling or rings for safely gripping the dart. One thing to avoid is painted barrels. The paint makes the barrel slippery and doesn’t allow for proper grip.

The barrel is what gives the dart its weight. Barrels are available in a variety of materials: brass, chrome, copper, nickel, nickel/silver, tungsten alloys, and even wood. Barrel weights range from 14 grams all the way up to 40 grams, but most average around 26 grams, with 28 or 29 grams being popular choices. Tungsten alloy barrels seem to be the most popular, and for good reason. Because tungsten is a dense metal, barrels made from it can be heavier, but remain slimmer and more streamlined than, say, brass barrels. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to start with a heavier barrel and then graduate to a lighter one if it feels comfortable.

Shafts

The shaft holds the flight and keeps it the proper distance from the barrel. They’re usually made from nylon, aluminum, or titanium. Nylon shafts have a tendency to break when dropped, and aluminum bends easily, potentially affecting the way the dart flies when thrown. Titanium shafts are the sturdiest option, impervious to breaking and bending, but are also the most expensive. One way to look at it is, you can spend a little extra one time to buy the best quality, or spend just as much replacing shafts that break or bend.

Flights

The colorful part of the dart, the flight is also an extremely important component. Flights stabilize the darts as it flies, helping it to land where you aim. Two important rules to remember about flights are, always use the same flight shape on all three darts, and always make sure the flights are spread. When you first place a new flight on a dart, the individual wings of the flight may remain a bit flat. Manually spread them out to get them as close as possible to the ideal X shape. If the flight remains too flat, the dart won’t fly properly. Flights also give you the opportunity to personalize your darts. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials, and colors. You can also find flights that display your country’s flag, proclaim pride in your favorite sports team, or just have fun designs. The flights you choose can be an expression of your personality.

In addition to all these basic components, there are a lot of other accessories available to improve your darts’ performance like flight protectors, which enhance the flight’s durability, shaft rings that keep the flights firmly attached to the darts, tip sharpeners, flight cases, dart cases, and much more. You can also have flights personalized with anything—your name, your business or group name, a favorite quote, anything.

Remember that although selecting the right set of darts may seem complicated at first, learning what’s available and choosing the right components to build your set will go a long way toward making a fun game even more enjoyable.

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