So we're throwing darts at the board. How the heck do you aim the darn things?
We already know that we grab the dart in a grip. We're only supposed to move our forearm and everything else stays still.
When aiming you always want to aim at what you want to hit. Other systems don't work.
The other thing is that aiming is integral with the throwing process. You can't separate them.
The general idea is to grip your dart properly and hold it out in front of you at arm's length. The dart or a portion of the dart should cover the target you want to hit. The dart will be vertical or at an angle, depending on how you hold it.
For your initial tests, especially for vertical aim, you need to choose a definite aim point at eye height. Use the bullseye or a triple segment for this. Why? Because you want to create a reference for throws at a natural height. Lower or higher throws can differ in technique slightly, and you want a baseline to start from. Strange enough ... I find it most difficult to reliably throw at eye height ... which for me is mid-board, right at the bull. That's the area where my throwing is the least consistent. I think that's because it is right between the two styles... and I never had a baseline to start from.
There are two sets of instructions below, one for Vertical Aim, and the other for Horizontal Aim. You need to do both at once to aim. It's easier to explain them separately.
Hold a definite point on the dart over the target on the dartboard that you want to hit. A good starting point is to use the point where the dart flight and the shaft come together.
Slowly pull your forearm back, and then start your forward throw, releasing the dart in a ballistic path.
See where the dart lands, and adjust your aiming point on the dart up or down to a definite point as needed until you are hitting on target. For example -- tail of the flight, center of the flight, midpoint on the shaft, shaft/barrel joint etc.
Shafts with decorations such as rings, or writing on them can have several fine adjustment points to use.
One of the easiest ways to aim is intuitive. Your brain is actually naturally good at aiming for throwing things -- it's known ballistic trajectories it's entire life!
Eye up the exact target, and then directly walk toward it, stopping at the foul line. Stop with your throwing foot at or slightly behind the line. Throwing foot aligned with the target is a great starting point.
Hold up your arm toward your your target as above. The dart should cover the target, and then follow the above Vertical throw instructions.
If you are off-target left or right, a small adjustment in stance is an easy fix to correct of lot of problems. Just try putting your feet down at slightly different angles until you are hitting right where you want to.
If you are far off target, do the above, but raise your arm with your eyes closed. Then open them and see where your are is naturally pointed. Then work on changing your stance so your arm points naturally at the target.
If you are forward facing in your stance, you may need to use parallel or offset aiming. In that case, note your target on the board and the mark on the Foul Line which corresponds to your aim point. Walk toward the target on the board and your mark. Throw as above. If not on target, choose a new reference mark and do the same till you are on-target. In this case you should be walking forward into the board and reference mark -- not from an angle.
If you are using the inline eye-dart-target alignment system, things are a lot easier. This is only possible if you stand sideways to the Oche, you don't need to worry so much about the foul line as an aiming tool. Basically you aim the dart exactly where you want it to go and it goes there.
If you stand somewhat forward facing, you may need to use the foul line as an aiming mark to fix the dart not aligned with eye problem!
The foul line has index marks on it for you to use as repeatable aiming points.
Start on 0, throw darts at the bull, and see how far off they land. Move sideways an appropriate amount to get the dart centered, and you'll find the index mark which causes you to put darts in the bull.
After that, it's a simple matter to find index marks which work for the other cricket numbers -- 19, 18, 17, 16, 15.
I use the trips of each as my aiming point, because I shoot soft-tip darts and the trip segments are huge compared to the segment size on a steel-tip board. If you want to go for the outside (fat) single, (or a double) make a small adjustment to do so. That is probably be a long-term mistake, but it's what I started with and I am stuck with it until I can aim better.
If I was a steel-tip shooter, I should choose marks that land in the outside (fat) single segment, since that is the largest target on each segment. If you really need a double or a triple, it requires only a slight offset to move aim for those higher-pointing beds.
Playing other games, such as '01, use your cricket marks as a starting point to aim at something with the same offset, or to make a small adjustment L/R to hit what you want.
This system sucks a bit -- when you shoot on a different size board, your offsets will be different. Soft-tip .vs. Steel-Tip .vs. Champion Board. That's why inline aiming is the way to go -- it is a better & more accurate method.
One thing I've noticed which is entirely goofy is that my index marks for the right side of the board can change based on height of the target. I think this is a combination of an optical illusion of the circle of the board falling off combined with my approach to the board. It is something to be aware of in case your suffer the same optical illusion in your line-up.
Choose a standard reference point on your foot to index the line with -- inside of foot, big toe, whatever, for consistency.
If your throw is off target the best thing to do is to not move and throw again. Why? Well, you don't know what went wrong. You're first release just might have been wild.
It can happen because you really want the dart to go there, and your body helped it a little bit. Maybe a little bit of Body English made it into the throw! Oops. But ... if the throw felt really wrong, or if it went totally off the board... don't throw again. If it Feels Wrong don't try to force it.
If your second dart exactly follows the first congratulations! Your throws are very precise (they get to the same area), but they aren't accurate. They are a bit off target. Now you know you need to adjust your aim to lay the darts onto target.
Precision is superb -- if you can do it all the time you have it made. You'll have no problems getting 3-in-a-bed and hat-tricks on a regular basis.
The thing is .. how much do you move? If you are using parallel aiming you just move that much sideways on the line, and throw again. I usually don't look, and let my body naturally adjust how much it thinks it should move. This technique can work extremely well for small changes in parallel aiming. You are letting your hind-brain do something to a higher accuracy than you can do with your thinking mind. A larger change (in other words you are way off) is different -- re-approach the board at a new set of aim marks.
If you are just a tiny bit off ... should you move? What's a tiny bit? Maybe you're aiming for T20 and getting the 20 edge of the 1 segment. Or aiming T17 and getting T2/T3.
The common wisdom is to NOT MOVE. You are basically on-target; if you throw another dart the same, the natural error radius could end with you being on-target for real. Common wisdom says that if you move any signnificant amount, you'll over-correct and be off target anyway. Better to throw again and hope for natural error to land the dart on target. They aren't wrong -- their theory is sound. The only problem with it is that you can end up with 3 wasted darts if all three throws are perfectly off target.
One thing you can try doing is to lean a tiny bit in the direction you want to move the dart in and throw again. Don't change anything else. When I say lean I mean a imperceptible movement of the body in that direction, still balanced on your feet. I've found that it helps me, and can be a good choice for small corrections when you would otherwise over-correct.
Basically you are just shifting your shoulder and head a tiny bit left or right, not affecting your balance or stance. If you can do that with control -- you might just get it right. If you can't move that little with control, keep on plugging away, or do something else.
It is all too easy to over-correct a change. This happens with both kinds of aiming. What we don't take into account is that the amount we are off is multiplied by the 8' distance the dart is thrown.
For example, a small 1 degree change corresponds to moving the dart aim 1-1/4" at an 8' range. If you are just a 1/4" off target the amount you need to move is almost insignificant.
I find one big advantage of parallax aim throws is that I can move my shooting foot (or feet) on the foul line to move the exact amount I'm off. It helps fight over-correction ... and it just might provide a natural under-correction -- if I only move 1 foot, the rest of my body is moving 1/2 as much as the foot is... and may act like natural under-correction to make things perfect.
I think that may be why my relative movement doesn't work for larger shifts -- I'm making a larger change with the foot, but not all of me is following the same. Ergo ... my aim doesn't change by as much as I want it to!
Over Compensation is a human-nature thing which is different from Over Correction.
If we are off a little bit, we tend to make too much of a correction in the right direction. Which means we over-do it and are off too much in that direction. Crazily Enough we then over-compensate for being off in that direction, usually moving back to where we started from.
How to deal with over compensation? You have to know about it and fight doing it.
Sometimes you just know or feel that something is wrong with a throw. It's way off more than even a wild throw would do. If you feel that it is off, it is time to step back from the board and start over. This can be especially important to you if you managed to throw a dart off the board... especially in a game like '01 where the points from every players' every dart matters. You can't afford to put a second dart off the board.
Step back and do it all over again. If it is still nowhere near where you wanted it, and still feeling wrong -- you might have to step back and try a different lineup on the 3rd dart.
Why? Probably your body just is doing something goofy with the throw this round. The best you can do is try to directly brute-force compensate for it. It is inelegant, and perhaps inaccurate -- but getting the dart onto the board closer to your target is what you need to do to stay in the game ... especially now if you are frazzled by throwing a wasted dart.
I've had occasions where I'm basically trying to walk my darts back onto target. I'm aiming at say inner 11 segment, or even a bull.
I don't know what goes wrong in this kind of scenario. I'm starting to think that you are looking at things goofy, perhaps really needing the points (so the body is throwing wild). It's hard to reset ... so just work with whatever is going wrong to horse the darts back onto the target. If you know what went wrong, it might be easy enough to fix .... but being frustrated can put more pressure on your throw ... leading to wild throws. All you can do is what you think is best.
The other thing is that you just got stressed out by missing the board. You are going to try really hard to shoot that next dart home. The thing is, you can't force accuracy; it's something that is just part of a good throw. Trying to force it to be right will just make it worse. Don't fight yourself -- reset and try it again!
Heck, try throwing it at the bull just to keep it on the board and see if that gets you back in the game. At the worst you'll be keeping the dart on the board; that can really help your peace of mind sometime!
I've found that you don't want to hold the arm straight out, which flexes the elbow up. Instead hold your arm loosely out. What is going on here is that you aren't flexing your elbow as much out of line, .. So, when you draw your back, your elbow remains in about the same place. Boom, better repeatability and accuracy in your throw.
If you are trying to get 3 darts in a bed (or the bull) you may need to shift sideways so that the preceeding darts don't block the remaining darts access to the bed. If you use inline aiming, it's easy, just move sideways a bit and aim. If you use offset aiming it's difficult to change things up. You might just want to throw and hope it works out. It does -- I've put three darts nuzzling each other within a dime of each other -- it's possible if all three darts follow exactly the same arc and land next to each other at the same angle.
I find that parallel aiming isn't truly parallel. Due to visual illusions you probably end up sort of naturally aiming toward a target segment on the board. This means that your marks on the foul line may not be linear for targets versus distance from the bull. This probably has something to do with how I approach the board, and especially the right side which is non-linear for me; the left side is pretty much dead on linear.
I think it is possible to do inline aiming with a forward facing stance. Aim up a target, walk into the shot, and voila, it just might work. All parts of your throw and lineup need to be repeatable ... but that's exactly what we are striving for anyway!
I have problems with inline aiming because my right arm doesn't flex backwards a lot. Normally (for a right-hander) you are positioned toward the right side of the board to get everything aligned, and your arm sticks out at 90 degrees to your body. I was watching someone else throw, and found a different method that allows inline sighting, which I am experimenting with. Standing Left of the board at an angle allows your right arm and eye to be aligned, but not at 90 degrees, more at about 45-60 degrees. It also positions your throwing arm and eye close to the center of the board.
Watch good players throw to learn things about a good throw, grip and other issues. It can help. Take heed of the advice of a better player who is watching you throw -- it can be priceless advice! They "know" what to look for in their throw, and when they see it missing from someone else's throw, they tell you about it. While that technique might not work for you ... don't throw it away. Hang on to it and think about it. Later, as you get better, suddenly it can apply to your throwing and really help you out!
In January 2014 I walked to the bar to shoot some darts. I wanted to go for a walk, and I wanted to throw, and there wasn't enough time to do both ... so I combined two shorter walks with dart throwing and it worked out.
I threw a handful of practice darts, then plugged in 501 to warm up with.
I wasn't even thinking about throwing, walked up the board, aimed at the bull and threw. 20. Everything felt just great and natural, like it did before my finger broke.
Adjust down, and throw. Another beautiful effortless release, the dart flying arrow straight to the board to hit it solidly. BULL It felt great, just everything throwing well.
The third dart arrowed right to the center of the DOUBLE BULL. Again, the throw was fast and effortless. I wasn't thinking about
The second round I walked up and threw, and got a good round of 73. A bunch of triples, but not at the vertical center & bull where I was aiming. After that my throwing went back to its new normal self.
When you are on you don't think about throwing and all the elements. You just throw. The thinking gets in your way. You're all about choosing a target and shooting at it. You're body is on automatic and the darts go where they should.
It feels wonderful, especially when your throwing is something like it used to be!
I used to throw well. I could hold a vertical line and get 20-Bull-3 no sweat. I had a good throw, I just didn't know how to move it around the board to target other parts well.
Now, I know how to do that ... because I no longer have that automatic throw. I try but its like it's lost its way. Getting a session like that every once in a while keeps me going to unlock it.
Enjoy it, watch it, remember what it feels like. Don't question it or look at it critically. Just throw and enjoy it and remember.
When it goes away, try to recall all the things what went well. You won't have total recall because you weren't looking at everything on purpose. Recall what you can, and try to emulate it later.
Something similar happened before, only it didn't feel like magic .. everything just worked. I'd thrown a lot of forearm Disc that day to the point that my right pec, shoulder, upper arm, an forearm muscles were too tired to continue that way. So I switched to back-hand; it uses a differnt set of muscles.
That Night, my pool stroke became dead, the stroke was just perfect and I had cue and cueball control like a player of my experience should -- effortlessly I was shooting darts too, so I tried turning my pool stroke upside down to throw with. It worked, my darts just started throwing beautifully. It went away after 30 minutes ... but for that 30 minutes both of my games looked, felt, and played beautifully.
I'm guessing that the walking to the bar, or that throwing disc loosened up a bunch of tight muscles that are inhibiting a good throw, grip, or release. When they relaxed the body could stroke or throw without interference from those muscles, and things just worked.
If only I can figure out how to get that stuff loosened up all the time, I'm wondering if that's the trick to shooting and throwing well. I'm trying -- the goal is well worth whatever experimentation is needed to get there!