Reproduced from 1950 Unicorn Book of Darts
The champion dart player, who rarely scores less than 100 with three darts and can hit any double on demand, is envied and admired by all. Can such skill be taught or acquired? The answer is frankly, no. Top class dart players, just as violin virtuosos, great painters or great writers, are born, not made.
The secret of a great dart player is, no doubt, psychological preconditioning. A man who can throw a dart to hit any desired point on a disc 18 inches in diameter, from a distance of 9 feet, concentrates on that point to the complete exclusion from his mind of everything else and his brain automatically co-ordinates the movement of every muscle in his body in such a way that, once impelled, the dart cannot fail to reach its target. It all works like a precision machine, set and tuned to perfection.
Whilst those less gifted may never reach such giddy heights, a great deal can be achieved by practice and the observance of certain general principles, derived from the methods of successful players.
First, however, a few words on the choice of the right type of darts. It might be thought that the same kind of dart ought to suit everybody, but such would be a mistaken notion. We have conducted a very interesting investigation on this point in co-operation with an eminent physicist and have arrived at the conclusion that darts have to suit a person in much the same way as spectacles, in other words they have to correct a fault, namely, the fault of the person's natural throw. Each person has a different fault and theoretically should have his own special darts to put him on equal footing with others, but as this is impracticable, he should be able to choose the nearest to the ideal, from as wide a range of shapes, sizes and weights as possible. This is the very reason why we offer such a large, scientifically graded choice, and it may be stated that whilst we are sometimes told, by one person, that one or the other of our patterns is 'unbalanced', there are always numerous others who find that the vary same pattern is the one which suits them best. If a particular type of dart does not suit, the only thing to do is to try another, until the correct type is found. It also happens that a player goes 'off' a certain style of dart after a while, in which case changing over to another style often improves play.
Here now are a few hints on how to hold the dart, on stance, on throw, on practising and on the method of good scoring:
(1) To hold dart correctly, place thumb under centre of gravity of dart (the position of which varies with the shape of the dart) and fore and middle fingers directly above it.
(2) Always keep a very loose wrist.
(3) Hold dart approximately level with eye by side of face, keep upper arm perfectly steady and be ready to swing lower arm quite freely from the elbow.
(4) Stand easily, slightly sideways, right foot a little forward and toe touching, but not over-stepping hockey line. Sight selected target, slowly swing back lower arm from elbow, then swing lower arm forward and when dart is a highest point release it by parting thumb and fingers. Remember, upper arm must be steady, dart must not be jerked and wrist must not be twisted. The dart reaching its target will depend on true alignment being maintained between the eye, the dart and the target during throw and on the force applied to the dart. The greater the force, the higher the dart will land in the board.
(5) The throw must be determined and have behind it plenty of force, exerted by a flexible wrist only. A fast dart is much more likely to hit the desired point of the target than a flabby one.
(6) Practice throwing three darts close together on any part of the board, if consistently achieved, this in itself is a great step forward. Practise throwing one dart in each bed from 1 to 20, then three darts in each bed, then one dart in each of the doubles from 1 to 20. Keep a record of the number of darts you require to throw to achieve this, the reduction in this number will indicate your progress. Other similar tasks can be set as you advance.
(7) It will be noticed that the order of numbering the sectors of the dartboard is very cleverly and scientifically arranged. The higher numbers (from 12 upwards) have lower numbers on either side, so that a miss, when aiming at a high number, means a grievous loss of score. It is, therefore, not always profitable for the beginner to aim constantly for the highest number obtainable on the board with one dart, namely treble 20 = 60. Good players often get 20+20+treble 20=100 ('one ton') with a throw of three darts, two treble 20's being not infrequent with crack players (three treble 20's being rare even for them), but the novice consistently trying for the 20 bed is more likely to get scores such as 1+1+5=7, 1+20+5=26, and so on. If the player is not sure of himself, it is more profitable to aim at the four sectors 8,16,7,19 as this wedge of the board yields the highest average score. Players should, of course, practise to obtain any number required.
(8) Towards the end of the game it is very useful for the player to know what to aim at to get a good double finish. For example, if 77 is required to finish, this may be accomplished by throwing 17,20 and double 20. If 9 is required this may be achieved in any of the following ways:- 1, double 4; 3, double 3; 5, double 2; 7, double 1; or 1, 2, double 3, etc. All possible ways are not equally good, for example aiming for 3, double 3 is not as good as 1, double 4, because of the player got 3 with the first dart and missed double 3 with the second and got single 3, he still has 3 to get with one dart left, which is not possible. He must, therefore, get 1 with his third dart, to be left with 2 = double 1 for next turn. But if he tries to get 9 by 1, double 4, and instead of double 4 gets single 4 with his second dart, he is left with 4 which he can get by throwing double 2 with his third dart. These examples illustrate how a little mental arithmetic will help the player when he gets down to the doubles stage of the game. The wisdom of leaving oneself for finishing the double of an even number, rather than that of an odd number will also be apparent.
(9) It will be obvious from the foregoing that it is a great advantage to keep the score at an even number when it is low enough to permit finishing with three darts. It is useful to remember that an odd number must be got to even the score, if it is odd and an even number must be obtained to keep it even, if it is even. If the player is not very sure of himself, he may bear it in mind that it is easier to get an even number on those parts of the board, where there are even numbers side by side, such as 8 and 16, 6 and 10, and 18 and 4, whilst for getting an odd number the safest part of the board is the wedge formed by the beds, 7,19,3,17 where there are four odd numbers side by side.
(10) It is often found, even with experienced players, that when trying hard for a high number, say the 20 bed, two darts will hit it and the third goes astray and the player obtains 1 or 5 with his third dart. A good tip is to aim for a different part of the board with the third dart, if success has been achieved with the first two, suppose the first two darts landed in the 20 bed, try 19 with the third.
(11) Always keep your darts in good trim, replace in their container after use, see that the flights are in good condition and the points sharp, this not only ensures easy penetration of the board, but also prolongs the life of the latter. If the points become blunt, they can be easily sharpened with a Patent UNICORN Dart Sharpener.