The Hexa target is a simple training/practise aid based around the idea that learning to hit an ‘area’ rather than the specific segment will improve your accuracy and consistency and you can then shrink the size of the area as you improve.
There several similar aids on the market but the Hexagonal shape intrigued us as it can be easily aligned with board segments and as such can be used more flexibly than the rings type of aid. In addition the Hexa Target is a young enterprise of the type that often innovate on behalf of players.
Each set is around £8 (with 20% going to Disability Darts) and comes with 3 concentric hexagonal targets made from a playable rubberised material. 4 pins are supplied for securing the target to the board. We consulted ‘Coach’ who tested these extensively:
“These are very simple, inexpensive aid that can be used in a variety of ways. For setting a general area that is more forgiving, for recovering a ‘lost’ skill and for specific combination board use.”
“Hexa Targets seem perfect for a player who has developed the basics but want to add some structure to their practise.”
As ever, ‘Coach’ had an ‘and finally’ to add:
“If you are a rhythmic, trust type player and are willing to really pile in the work these are could be a huge asset.”
There is plenty of science to back that view up. For a good visual starting point PDC Pro Matt Edgar gives an excellent walk through on (YouTube) Edgar TV.
For more information or to grab a set of Hexa Targets go to @DartsHexa.
Words & Testing: AIM:
(Review originally appeared in Darts World Magazine 571)
Elsewhere within on A.I.M: you may have come across our review for the SP03 Darts from Target. The SP Range is brand new and offers some interesting and original designs. Its most attractive feature is what those initials (SP) stand for, Swiss Point.
For many years darts players and manufacturers have sought to make the replacement, or changing, of points a simple and attractive feature. In short, they failed. It was usually a fiddly task involving quite a lot of effort and a good few minutes per point. Not exactly ideal during a game or in between rounds.
Modern point innovations have made this quest even more urgent than previously. Has the Swiss Point solved these issues and will they catch on?
As can be seen, from the shot below, the Swiss Point is an all-round system with the barrels, the points and a specific tool, all designed and made for the purpose of swift, secure and simple point change. Each point is exactly the same as a standard version until the blank near the blunt end. A unique screw-in system is incorporated to the last section.
Swiss Point barrels, regardless of model, have the reverse of the screw within them. This ensures a perfect fit and a very solid feel.
There is a slot just below the blank. This is for the SP tool to grip and to ensure that a broken point can still be swapped in and out in very quickly indeed.
The current range of SP barrels is restricted to a range of specific SP darts (01-03) and the latest Generation of Phil Taylor’s darts (Gen 6). Phil himself seems very impressed:
“Swiss point is the biggest innovation in darts since Tungsten”
16 X World Champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor
The retail price of around £5 per set of points and £3 for a point tool represent good value and seems to have been pitched to include all. The comparative price of player models will be interesting to note.
We subjected the SP to rigorous testing with a variety of styles and players. We have a player who wanted to change his points according to the hardness of the board. He therefore changed them twice during a practice match. It took him less than 1 minute to change all three points and he could not tell the difference between these and his normal set-up.
We then introduced an amateur, who has only played twice, to try and change the points with the minimum of instruction. They also succeeded and did so within two minutes. The SP Tool simply fits over the point and locks onto the slot end of the point. A very few turns ensure the point can be detached and then
Even world champions seem to agree;
“I use Target Firepoints; as I like that extra grip for my finger on the point. With Swiss Point I can now swap out my points in seconds.”
Rob Cross 2018 PDC World Champion
We then deliberately broke a point, by dropping on hard tiled floor, and indeed we changed the point just as easily with no problem whatsoever. Every change resulted in three perfect points, the same length and fit etc. with no variations or difficulties.
All three players reported no difficulties with the feel of the point and reported that they could not feel a difference at the point/barrel intersection.
All three of our testers gave the idea and the execution at least 8/10 and one of the 10/10. All could change the darts perfectly and in no more than two minutes. Their only question was how soon we thought they would get more models, and players darts, available.
It is always difficult to predict the success of an innovation, especially when it is only available on restricted models and from one company. Target have big plans for the SP;
“Our vision is to make Swiss Point the new standard and we see all our darts coming with Swiss Points as the new standard in the future. For me, Swiss Point is the biggest innovation Target has ever done and the one I am most excited about.” Garry Plummer MD Target Darts
A.I.Mcan see the SP being a huge success. If it is introduced to a wider range of models as quickly as possible, and not over-priced, we predict very high demand. Our only question mark is how the system/points will wear over a long period of time. Will the internal screw loosen, if changed often will the points wobble and clink. The build quality appears to be very high indeed and thus the problems are unlikely. But as with all things, the more moving parts, the more there is to go wrong.
We look forward to reporting back with a Swiss Point update in 6-12 months.
Article and testing produced for Darts World Magazine 2019.
A.I.M: are strongly of the opinion that “there has been little, or no, beneficial innovation in darts since the tungsten barrel”. He does, however, allow one notable exception, points!
We have been are currently conducting extensive tests on the various types of points on the market. Collared, coloured, grooved, coated and almost every other option available are being put through their paces. Some things have become obvious early on in the testing. The first is that Raptor from RedDragon is an exceptional product.
First Impressions: These points don’t come with flash packaging or attached to their own range of dart. However, it is immediately noticeable that they are unusual. They are plain and appear very well made indeed. They are 33mm long with 28mm exposed after fitting. The point is collared in style (to eliminate join between point & barrel), there are 4 grooves, from the collar downward, that allow for exact finger placement/grip. The lower section is slim and sharply tapered, for good board penetration and there is a small (2mm) barb for both finger feeling and board retention.
Fitting: We fitted Raptor points into three different brands of darts. The fitted easily and snuggly into all three with no complications.
Grooved Section: The grooves worked excellent for those who like to feel their finger in the same place but not to slip during delivery.
Lower(Smooth) Section: Testing showed that this penetrated the board well and was a good alternative resting point for those who like their finger on a smooth area.
Point Barb: Very unusually Raptor has a small, less than 2mm bard at the very tip of the point. This proved excellent in improving board retention, even the gentlest thrower had full confidence that their dart would stay in place. In addition, it proved very useful with those who naturally rest their finger at the point, Dennis Priestley style, for control.
Durability: The Raptor seems to have overcome one of the problems of newer complex points. Despite heavy usage, and a few drops, we have not broken one yet!
“Brilliant, much stiffer than my current collared point” – Serious Amateur
“Nice and not all flashy” – Elite level player
“All round winner” – Coach
Downsides: The only recorded downside was that they seem to be only available in this length. At least one player would move to them if a 30mm (external) option was provided. Raptor do increase wear on your board espcially if its of the softer variety.
The SnapShot: First impressions, and initial testing, reveal raptor to be an exceptional product, that raises the bar for modern points. The problems of over flexibility, breakability and clumsiness that affect some complex, or collared, points are solved in one go. Red Dragon have produced a superb product and the fact that it can be added, at point of purchase, to a huge range of darts, is a boon.
Red Dragon’s Nitro stem came out top of the heap recently after being subjected to independent testing. Overall, players of differing styles and standards, including a multiple major finalist, found Nitro improved their game and provided the best value.
“Having used the same style set up for over 15 years, I was very surprised at the immediate difference Nitro stems made. The improved flight, and reliability has added something to my game. I will not be going back.”
The guys at A.I.M: subjected many of the top branded stems, flights and setups, to rigorous testing. This involved, players ranging from enthusiastic amateurs through to major finalists using the various accessories for the equivalent of 60 legs. Various drills and games were played in order to simulate general usage. Red Dragon’s Nitro stem was praised by all players and most preferred it to their original set up. Two of the players, previously wedded to standard setups, have switched to Nitro on a permanent basis.
Four main advantages were reported by players, the flight of dart, flight security and deflection reduction:
Flight: Players noticed immediately that the flight of the dart seemed to improve. We this may well be because of the steady but pronounced taper from barrel to flight. The tail of the dart appeared to lift easier and leave good vision for the following arrow.
Flight Retention: The ‘flight lock’ system works very well with few flights becoming detached. There was a substantial improvement from the standard stem & ring setups.
Target View: visuals, and the ultra-narrow rear profile, appear to encourage the player to hit the visible space. This reduces the number of deflections. The taper and solidity of the stem seem to make those deflections that occur more predictable and easier to adapt to.
Economy: Finally, all the players noted that the combination of these factors meant that they used fewer stems & flights, over the same period when compared to a standard flight, stem & ring combination.
Players noted that the stems seemed a little shorter than other designs. Some also mentioned that fitting flights into the stem could be tougher than with other stems.
A.I.M: “Of all the stems tested these had the best feedback, across style & ability, from players who previously would not have thought of changing”
Major Finalist: “Having used the same style set up for over 15 years, I was very surprised at the immediate difference Nitro stems made. The improved flight and reliability has added something to my game. I will not be going back.”
Amateur Player: “Loved these, I have already ordered more. It feels like I see the target so much better…”
This review has also been published at: reddragondarts.com & dartsworld.com
Several months ago, whilst on a visit to Winmau HQ, A.I.M were assisting a major finalist in redesigning his dart. We had a number of aims, no pun intended, but a major one was to reduce deflections and their impact. It was important that the player had greater reliability in this area. In addition reduction in flight and stem damage would be a useful advantage.
The last element came into place when we were handed a prototype of a new point that was to be in the 2019 range. I was immediately impressed. It appeared to solve the issues that some similar points have had. We agreed to have them fitted to the early edition of the Pro’s darts and then began to test them in a serious way.
In the six or seven months since we have subjected them to rigorous testing in multiple dart styles, different players with a spectrum of ability. In total, they have had over 5000 legs.
It is safe to say that these are an exceptional product. A.I.M has no doubt in recommending them to almost any player with any throw style or dart type.
The FreeFlo Factor!
Stuff & Strong Steel construction. This removed the issue with the over flexing of other collared points, especially in 30mm+ length.
Perfect barrel fit. We tried them in many different barrel brands and had no issue with fitting them to the slot or with the join area.
Sharper for longer. Many of the new point technologies get blunt quickly and can be difficult to sharpen well. Not the case with FreeFlo, they razor sharp, stay that way for hundreds of legs and can be conventionally sharpened.
Strength. Many similar style points have a reputation for breaking easily and snapping inside the barrel. This is a major issue and leads to new darts often being needed. FreeFlo doesn’t seem to suffer at all. Our testers played in all the usual venues and circumstances and we have not yet needed a single replacement!
Reduced deflection and damage. The addition of these points has reduced stem damage by over 30% and flight replacement by almost the same. Deflections have been reduced, with any deflections that happen, being far less dramatic and causing less pausing or re-aiming.
Believe it or not the only downside was for a player who actually rested his finger on the tip of the point. He could not cope with the sharpness and had to blunt them slightly.
Pro – “Massive thanks to Winmau these have given me an edge I was looking for. It could be the last piece of the jigsaw”. (21g Signature)
Good Amateur – “Brilliant, I have full confidence in my dart and throw, these are superb”. (18g Tapered)
Enthusiastic Amateur- “First time I have been able to use this type of Point. Really happy to rest my finger in the same place every time.” (24g Zagato)
A huge bonus here from Winmau. A.I.M: believe that point tech is one reason for the increase in players hitting high averages and widening the professional game. Winmau have caught up moved it on again with FreeFlo.