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Gordon’s Not A Moron

Posted by UniBoffin at 20:20 on 15th January 2013 in UniBlog

Gordon’s Not A Moron

Happy New Year everyone and welcome to my first blog of the year - a blog for which it’s always easy finding good darting topics as the World Championships can be relied upon to highlight a range of them. And the 2013 events were no exception!

First of all there were some great matches. Two in particular come to mind; the PDC semi in which Jackpot showed his double-World Champion class even whilst being edged out by the quick-fire storm that was MvG, and the final itself, with a determined Mr P Taylor (and congrats to him) proving he has lost none of his legendary will to win – or Power scoring.

Other Unicorn players also had a fair measure of PDC success. The Hammer and The Warrior strengthened their positions in the very top echelons of the game, Barney provided yet more evidence that he’s still up there where he belongs, as did The Machine, and The Flying Scotsman did well enough to secure his place with the others in the forthcoming Premier League. And of course Phil was not the only member of the Team to win a World Crown, with our own Anastasia triumphing again in the BDO Ladies event (more congrats!).

But you may be surprised to find that the player I really want to talk about in more detail is the BDO Men’s Champion Scott Waites (yes, congrats to him too!). Apart from thus exhibiting a suitably scientific lack of parochial bias, the motivation for this is that my last blog received three particularly interesting posts, one of which (from Gordon) asked how come Scotty 2 Hotty’s large-flighted darts land only 10 degrees or so off the horizontal, despite my contention that “in general terms darts with smaller flights tend to land flatter”.

Now that’s such a good question (Jilted John was wrong, Gordon’s not a moron!) that I’m going to devote the rest of the main body of this blog to answering it, leaving, as is more usual, replies to the other two posts (from Josh and Jon) to the Q&A section at the end. But if you’re not darts-scienced out by then, do keep reading as they’re almost equally instructive!

Anyway, back at Scott’s darts, whilst I can’t give you as authoritative an analysis as I could were he a Unicorn player, as far as I know he uses 23gm/50.8mm barrels with 46mm long plastic shafts with aluminium flight holders. They thus have a moderately high moment of inertia, which in turn results (as those of you who have been following these blogs will know) in them not stabilising all that quickly in flight, despite the relatively large flights. Now for a professional player that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but does mean that they can behave in flight in a not too dissimilar fashion to a shorter, lower inertia, dart with smaller flights.

But now we come to the really key issue, which is how Scott holds and releases his darts. The proviso to my comment about darts with smaller flights tending to land flatter was “although it does depend on exactly how the dart is released from the hand”. In Scott’s case his forward finger/thumb grip tends to pull the front of the dart down at release, hence they start their trajectory in a similar nose-down orientation to The Power’s, although Phil achieves this in a totally different (and rather individual) manner by pushing the rear of his darts up at release.

So Scott’s darts start pointing down like Phil’s and have flight characteristics that, whilst still being significantly more stable than The Power’s DXM-flighted Phase 5s, are not quite as different as it would appear from the very disparate geometries.

All this conveniently means I can refer Gordon (and anyone else interested) to the graphics accompanying my “= 5,000 words” blog of November 2011 to illustrate why Scott’s darts land flatter than one might expect. Although these images show how point-down release results in point-up impact with Phase 5s, it doesn’t take a big intellectual leap to see how a similar release with rather more stable darts like Scott’s would lead to a flat impact.

So now we can try to answer Gordon’s question of how to achieve flatter impact with a large-flighted dart. Incidentally, as a sports coach, I do see this is as a valid ambition as I appreciate the potential psychological aiming advantages for “ready, aim, fire” players like Scott Waites or Phil (or maybe even Gordon!) of a flat impact, despite the flight dynamicist in me also appreciating that there are some dynamic downsides.

That said, one thing which might help Gordon to achieve his aim is to increase his dart’s moment of inertia, if not by using a longer (or, rather less effectively, heavier) barrel, possibly by using a heavier shaft. Alternatively, he could try moving his grip further forward to create a more point-down release. But be warned, that might not work for Taylor-esque “push-grips” (or if you’re Bob Anderson – see my answer to Jon below).

Anyway, good luck with trying those things out, Gordon – let me know how you get on!

And now for those (rather lengthy!) Q&As – bye for now, hope to see you next time!

Q&As

Josh and The Power’s Darts
A couple of perceptive questions from you, Josh. To be technical for a moment, Phil’s Phase 2 set-up with an XLTi shaft and Slim flights has an estimated “yaw wavelength” around 10% longer than his current DXM-flighted Phase 5s, although a similar “yaw half-life”. All this means that the Phase 5s stabilise slightly quicker than the 2s and are thus a fraction more “forgiving” (although not actually significantly more stable in a strict aerodynamic definition of the word). Nonetheless, as can be inferred from my above explanation about Scott Waite’s darts, even the Phase 5s have a considerably longer yaw wavelength than most pros’ darts.

As for what darts I would recommend for Phil from a purely scientific perspective without allowing for his personal preferences, it would have to be the original Sigma 970 Pros. These were, after all, designed by me to be the most aerodynamically accurate dart for the professional, but make fewer compromises regarding popular grip and barrel shape choices than later versions. It’s also worth noting that, as I’ve reported before, the 25gm version was the dart that catalysed Phil’s resurgence of form back in 2008.

However, as I’ve also said before, it’s more important that a dart suits a player ergonomically than it is for it to be aerodynamically optimal. This can even extend to flight shape - Phil changed back to Slim flights from Sigma Pros because the sharp corner caught his cheek and then, after switching the Pro barrels for the broadly similar Phase 5s due to the grip suiting him better, moved on to DXM flights because he prefers the more point-up impact they give. And since he still seems to be doing rather well with that set-up, I’m inclined to stick with my previously stated overall, if somewhat cowardly, recommendation of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix”, meaning maybe he should stick with his Phase 5s for as long as he keeps winning!

Jon and Arm Fatigue
Jon switched from Andy Hamilton torpedo barrels to Jamie Caven parallel style and has since experienced less arm fatigue and mentions that he now feels his action is less like a Taylor throw and more like Bob Anderson’s. It’s obviously hard for me to tell exactly what’s going on here, but Bob holds his darts at the front (actually quite like Scott Waites, although Bob doesn’t pull the point down in the same way, possibly because he releases them rather lower). If Jon finds such a forward grip more natural, the problem may be this doesn’t really suit a tapering barrel like The Hammer’s as pulling on a taper requires a tighter grip, which can obviously cause more tension in the arm and hence more fatigue.

As a side issue, Jon says he likes SlikStik-style shafts and currently uses Phase 5s with his pear flights, but reading between the lines I suspect he might not yet be getting the same results with this combination on the Cavens as he did when on his Hamiltons. If that continues to be the case, Jon, you may find a lighter SlikStik than the titanium Phase 5s works better. You could try the medium-length plastic SlikStik+, but if you prefer the greater rigidity of metal, the SlikStik Al or Sigma Pro Magnesium could also be worth a look.

There are 5 comments to this post

Posted by eddie at 00:19 on 16th January 2013

very good read.i really like to look at how the darts come out players hands myself and would love you to review gary anderson throw and mvg as i find there throws the best to watch.i wonder what you think about this most players i have watched seem to have the palm of their hand open to the board i noticed that mine is not mine is the edge of my hand facing the board is there an advantage to having the palm open to the board.also i have seen some top players mvg and lewis seem to bring the dart down low and the let the dart go for a low point so the darts rush up the dip right near the end in your view what is the best way a dart can travel to the dartboard is it flip the dart flight up first or push the dart point up fast or even something else.

Posted by Martin Fu at 01:42 on 17th January 2013

Gordon’s, Not A Moron!! Agree!

Posted by Jon at 20:39 on 17th January 2013

Thanks for the tips! I mentioned your blog to my other forum members(dartsnutz.com) and suggested that your blog may be a good avenue to get advice about all of their unicorn products ! Cheers!

Posted by Jeff Cruz at 03:11 on 18th January 2013

I think Scott's grip and release is more similar to that of Mr. Barney although the latter's darts seems to "jump" rather than the former's...

His dart setup might be a way to compensate for his stature as he seems a bit tall of a dart player, just like Barney is.

Just my two cents...

Thanks for the blog Uniboffin! Keep 'em coming...

Posted by Glen Robert Huff at 20:43 on 20th January 2013

Happy New Year 2013, Uniboffin ! :-)

I enjoy your posts and articles very much !! Keep up the great work !!

I have a quick question for you.
I am 5 ft tall, and have often had difficulties getting my darts to the top of the board. I'm more of an arm thrower and have never had much of a wrist snap in my throw. I've recently been using some new Phase 5 Purist barrels, and I like them very much. I've been trying various shafts with them, Phase 5's , and Gripper shafts, and regular slik sticks, as well as the XL plus shafts, and have tried using the Optimizer to find which shaft and flight combination might yield the best results.

Is there a way that player height might be added to the Optimizer, so that that variable can be evaluated when the Optimizer recommends flight shaft combinations ?

I know you have not seen me throw, but being a shorter player, is there a flight / shaft combination that would enable me to get the darts up to the top of the board more accurately and more consistently, with less of an arc to my throw ?

Also - I love the Replica 1937 Silver Comets. I do have vintage John Wisden and early Unicorn Silver Comets in my collection, and it is fun to be able to use the Replica's without fear of damaging the vintage ones. Do you know if the replacement Silver Comet flights and shafts are available? I'd be interested in reading comments you might have on how the Comets perform aerodynamically in relation to the Sigma's / Phase 5's.

Thanks for any help or suggestions you might be able to provide me.

Glen R Huff
5624 56th Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98105

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