Thursday, 11 February 2016

Darts sight-right checker

After becoming engrossed with the darts on BBC over the New Year, it didn't take long for darts to become another fleeting infatuation. So, obviously, it was only a matter of time before a Winmau Blade 4 dartsboard and a set of Ted "The Count" Hankey "arrows" turned up in the post, thanks to those kindly Amazon carriers.

Darts is a great game. And easy to get into. Just about every pub has a dartboard, tucked away somewhere. And a decent set of darts - even like those used by top darts players - can cost less than twenty quid.

It wasn't long before the five and nine beds on my board were starting to take a battering. Hitting anything like a twenty, let alone a treble, was a pipe dream. To land anywhere in the twenty bed more than once an almost impossibility.

(it took only about forty-five minutes to get two arrows in the twenty bed at the same time!)

Despite this, I was getting better at "grouping" the darts - getting them within a few millimetres of each other in the board - just, more often than not, grouped around the nine or twelve beds.

Apparently, it's quite a common problem. You stand in front of the board, line yourself up with the treble twenty bed and hurl the darts. Except they drift off to one side. Or if they do land in the centre bed, they hit the board at a bit of an angle (the photo above shows a typical left-handed throw, with the arrows leaning into the board from the left).

And it's all because where the dart is being thrown from is not in front of the treble twenty. Although I might be looking at that bed, where I'm standing is not actually in line with it! Just a single image from the Winmau website gave me the answer to what was causing the problem, as well as how to fix it!

(this image shows the problem encountered by most right-handed players; as a left-handed player, I have the same problem, but mirrored).

So, at the next nerd night - and with some help from the others, as I can't always be trusted with sharp instruments - we set about building our own "sight right". The idea is that you place the "sight-right" at the foot of the dartboard, with the white line in-line with the bullseye. Then, stand at the oche in your normal throwing position. If you're off-centre, the white line appears as two broken pieces.

Move along the line, left or right, until the white line becomes a single, solid, unbroken line. At this point, you should be centred with the dartboard. And any arrows thrown should land in the centre; and if they do, because you're no longer throwing them into the board from an angle, they should be nice and straight. And nice straight darts mean that even if you miss the bed you're aiming for, the dart isn't lying at an angle, effectively blocking it for the next dart that follows.

The sight-right from Winmau isn't expensive. But when you add in carriage, and consider it's just a few bits of wood, it made sense to use up some of the stuff we had lying around at the BuildBrighton workshop.

First up we grabbed some 18mm mdf and cut the base.
Then, with some 18mm offcuts, created a "shelf" and stuck this on top.
Lastly, to make a three-part rather than a two-part sight-line, we stuck some 30mm batten on top of the shelf

All that remained as to draw in the centre-line and paint the whole thing (matt black, using blackboard paint, so as not to be dazzled by lights reflecting off it).

We also saw examples of these "sight-rights" online where the double-ten and double-sixteen lines were also painted in. As double-sixteen is a popular finish in darts (and double-ten a favourite for left-handed throwers) we thought it a good idea to include these too.

As most binary-number-addicts will understand, double-sixteen is a great number to finish on because if you miss by just a fraction and land in the single sixteen bed, you can immediately move on to double eight. Score a single eight and you can go straight to double four, then double two and finally double one. Other finishing scores usually mean having to throw for a treble or other non-finishing score at some point, if you keep missing the double!

So begin with, we stuck a dart in the middle of the bullseye and hung another dart from it using a bit of cotton (there's nothing hi-tech about this project!)

And marked the wood where the tip of the other dart touched

This is the centre-line for the sight-right. We then repeated the process by placing the first dart in the dead centre of the double 16 and double 10 beds. After marking the lines, painted the whole thing black and painted the white lines (with an old almost-crusty-dry pot of Tip-Ex!)

Here's the finished thing:

And the result - immediately after using the sight-right - was that the best score from three different players was.... 37.

Unlike a lot of "try-and-see" projects, we're refusing to call this a failure. The sight-right does actually work. It  makes throwing the darts easier and you feel more relaxed when throwing from the correct place. The trouble is, there isn't a decent darts-player between us! Maybe - with some help from the sight-right - this will change over time.....

[EDIT] Just a few days after using the Sight-Right, I noticed my darts grouping was getting better. Unfortunately there was no-one else to witness it, so I'll only be accused of setting the whole thing up, but here's a photo of the highest score I've ever managed at darts.

Onnnne - huuuunndred and forrrrty!

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