Tag Archives: Target

Paul Lim – A Global Legacy

Merely weeks after this article appeared, in Darts World Magazine, Paul Lim claimed his place at the 2020 PDC World Championships. Perhaps there is another chapter left to be written:

Paul Lim may perfectly symbolize the future of darts. The legendary ‘Singapore Slinger’, now 66, is certainly the ultimate Hybrid darter. He has played big-time darts for almost forty years and been successful in every arena and format the game has offered. 

Paul Lim | Target Darts
The Legend: Paul Lim ( Image Target Darts)

His overall significance to the sport may outweigh any of his individual achievements, although there are so many it’s hard to be certain. Target’s ‘Legend’ has triumphed in the BDO as well as in the PDC, he has twice been a world champion in soft tip darts, almost twenty years and two different codes separated his 1996 and 2017 triumphs.  

In between these individual efforts, Paul has represented four different nations in World Cups and team events. Dart’s World would not bet against him reappearing, and succeeding, in the remote darts realm. 

Lim burst onto the professional scene by winning the Australian Grand Masters in 1983, over the next half dozen years Lim made a plethora of quarter and semi-final appearances in major steel tip events, including the World Cup Singles and World Matchplay, across the globe. Then in 1990 Lim wrote his name indelibly in darts history. 

John Lowe had hit the first TV perfect leg a few years before. Yet, none had been hit since until Lim stepped up to the Lakeside oche. Nine sublime darts later the Singapore ace hit a plumb double twelve to complete the first World Championship ‘Nine’! A brief look on YouTube shows just how clean and controlled his effort was. Lim was now an icon in the game. 

BBC Sport - Darts - Paul Lim's nine-dart finish in 1990
Lim on his way to the first World Championship ‘9’.

Sadly, Paul’s great moment coincided with a decline in the TV popularity of steel tip darts, especially in the UK. Lim continued to play the biggest events but could not sustain himself with that alone. In an effort to boost his career and earning potential he combined his steel tip efforts with North American soft-tip tournament. Again, his efforts paid off in a major way.  

In 1996 Lim claimed his first World title. His victory in the Bull Shooter soft–tip championships confirmed that he could play at an elite level in either format, something he has continued to the present day. 

During the following years Lim became what in other sports would be considered a’ journeyman pro’ he played the major events in both formats. In addition, he demonstrated he could play in any company. From 1994 Lim played within the PDC system and competed with players such as Phil Taylor and Dennis Priestley. 

For most of this period Lim was based in either the USA Japan or his native Singapore. However, by the 2000s Paul was no longer reaching the later stages or collecting serious prize money and a great career looked to be winding down. Then something remarkable happened, in 2011 soft tip darts underwent a major makeover and guess who became its instant poster boy! 

As part of a re-packaging, of the machine based soft tip game, a $1,000,000 World Championship was held in Hong Kong. In a field packed full of soft-tip super stars, and steel tip icons, Lim came through to claim the title aged 57 (something about that number Wayne Warren?). 

In a remarkable piece of happenstance, the PDC arranged a commercial tie-up with the new DartsLive organisation, which Lim was already dominating, an extended an invitation to their champion to play the PDC World Championship at Ally Pally! The following year he qualified again via the  Dartslive route. 

By now Paul had completely mastered the art of playing hybrid darts. He seemed focused on soft-tip in Asia and still crossed back and forth to play PDC events including World Cups. His gentlemanly demeanor and iconic status ensured he became a firm favourite with the fans. But Lim was not merely a performing seal and not yet finished with creating moments of darting drama. 

Paul Lim - Home | Facebook

In 2017 Singapore pulled of one of the biggest shocks seen in the PDC’s World Cup of darts, when they defeated Scotland’s crack team of Gary Anderson and Peter Wright. They went on to defeat Spain in round-two and reach the Qtrs finals. The very next year Lim created a moment of almost perfect sporting nostalgia, the opponent/ Why Gary Anderson of course. 

The 2018 World Championship saw Lim roll back the years and defeat former World Champion Mark Webster. His last 16 game featured a remarkable moment. Lim seemed to be tired and started slowly, before suddenly producing six perfect darts. The crowd realised what could be happening, his opponent, Anderson, knew what was happening, but could it? Could lightning strike twice nearly thirty years apart? 

Paul Lim, 63 years old was about to complete a phenomenal legacy of global, multi format, multi code and multi era darting glory. The perfect bookend to a remarkable journey! 

The first two darts found their targets and with a near hysterical crowd Lim went to release the 9th dart. In a highly unusual moment, there was a very faint twitch and the dart missed the double twelve bed. The disappointment was universal, Anderson looked almost as crestfallen as Paul! Despite the miss Paul was lauded around  the globe and the reminder of his remarkable career.  

Just in case you think the story is over, think again! In 2018 the PDC launched their Asian (Steel tip) tour and yes, you guessed it the first Tai Pai weekend saw one player reach the final of event one and then win event two. That player? Paul Lim. 


Update: Despite the huge disruption to the 2020 season, caused by the Corona virus, Paul qualified for the World Championship by claiming the Hong Kong qualifying event.


JR Lott writes a Lott! Follow him @JRLott2 

Swiss Point System – Change Your Points in Under 1 Minute.

A Holy Grail?

Swiss Point – Target 

Interchangeable Point System (Steel Tip) 

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?

 

Introduction

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. 

Testing:  

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. 

Marks: 9/10 

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. 

The Future: 

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 

Testers View:  

A.I.M can 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.

Swiss Point 03: In-Depth.

Product: Darts (Steel Tip) 
Brand: Target 
Model Name: Swiss Point 
Model / Edition: 03 (22g) 
RRP: £75+   
 
Content of the box for Target Swiss Point 03

General Summary

Swiss Point 03 is a superbly engineered, and finely tuned, addition to Target’s premium range. Straight barrelled and dual gripped to appeal to a wide audience. They feature the brand-new Swiss Point, an interchangeable point system patented by Target. 

The colour scheme and styling, (silver/grey combinations) ensure that the dart is visible in the board but not glaring/distracting. For such a heavily machined dart it has a remarkably slim feel and looks. The grip is strong, impressive and original.  

The SW03 will suit many players but especially those with a lighter grip who like a sharp feel. Relaxed, stylish throwers will be intrigued! The SW03 features the Swiss Point changeable point system, more of which later, but is a fine dart in its own right. 

At over £75 SW03 are a premium piece of design, production and performance for the higher end of the non-player market. 

In the Box: 

3 x Swiss Point 22g Barrels, 1 x Swiss Point Changing Tool, 1 x Extra Set Swiss Points, 3 x Pro-Grip Stems ( Medium) & 3 x Swiss Point badged Flights. 

Player Quotes:

“A seriously solid but stunning looking dart that combines solidity with ease and urgency of grip” 

“I love the grip, the front section is superb looking, but feels less likely to stick than deep/sharp old fashioned rings” 

….Great combination of style and performance, best I have seen for ages”. 

Testing Process: 

A.I.M used different players;  elite, strong amateur, youth and a lady player. We subjected the SW03 to a variety of throw styles, conditions and set ups. In total at least one hundred legs and close to two thousand darts were thrown. Our testers used the dart in competitive practice, training drills, over a weekend for social games, even an open knockout. 

Another model of the Swiss Point range is the latest iteration of Phil Taloy’s 9Five range (Gen6).

In addition to the supplied set up, Standard Shape Target Swiss Point Flights and Pro Grip Stems, players were asked to try their own or any other set up they felt might complement this type of dart. 

The Results:  

  • First Impressions: All three of our testers were very impressed with the general look and feel of the SW03. The milled and cut grips intrigued them whilst the subtle black/grey colour was deemed attractive and not “over done with gold and stuff”. Our players mostly liked the initial feel of the dart in their hand. The words stylish and weighty were used. Two players thought the dart would be heavier than the 22g it actually was. One player was weary of the grip, the new feeling felt sharp and he was doubtful as a result. 
  • Performance: Our youth player was most strongly positive about the SW03. In his view, the dart performed very well and felt very comfortable in the hand and was impressed by the styling. He felt his consistency level improved. In addition, our more social player liked the grip style as it “seemed grippy but not sticky” for their very loose hold on the dart. Both these players are quite relaxed (long) throwers and it seems the SW dart compliments this very well. Our female tester also liked the darts performance while having reservations over the grip level. 
  • Downsides: Our elite level player was intrigued by SW03 overall. However, as he uses a very strong grip, he did not find it as easy to get a regular, comfortable feel from SW03. After a while, he found a better holding zone, more toward the front of the dart and was much happier. 
  • The Tech Bit: For such a heavily engineered dart SW03 come in at a slim 6.4mm wide. The subtle cosmetics and grip pattern combine to create the impression of an even slimmer model. The 51 mm length is the middle point in recent times and allows many different throw styles to feel comfortable. The slightly rounded ‘nose cone’ area is essential on a dart with pronounced grip. The stem join area is superbly engineered, as is the nose area, allowing various Swiss Points point to be fitted whilst still allowing the “rested finger” to be consistent. The “Dual Force Machining” results in a square cut grip that acts more like a texture. 
  • Durability: Swiss Point (03) stood up very well over the 100+ legs that we subjected them to. Our strong amateur barely made a mark on them over a whole weekend. Our youth player is very direct and caused the usual surface marks.  Our elite player maximised the contact between the arrows. Yet, due to the colour scheme and styling, no difference was noticed to the appearance of the dart in the board. In the hand, the darts simply slightly used but not in a way that affected their appeal. It is possible that a worn set of SW03 may well be even better with those who hold the dart firmly being happier when they are slight worn in. It should be noted that the grips do seem to increase wear and tear on the flights. Two of our testers reported using extra flights over an extended period of use. 
A.I.M: Independent dart consultants.

A.I.M:  

After looking long and hard at these darts, and studying the players who tested them with us, we have concluded that they would be excellent for those who have a long throw and light or very light grip. If you think you’re a bit of a Barney or even a Terry Jenkins style thrower, then these may well work for you.  

Traditional style setups, medium stems and standard shaped flights worked best with the SW03. Shorter or more slimline setups seemed to affect the stability of the dart in flight. 

N.B. We will be looking at the Swiss Point System separately.  Check-out our stand-alone review. 


A version of this review appeared in DartsWorld (December 2019) & at dartsworld.com

Bunting Gen3 by Target

The Bullet himself has been a little subdued for a while now, it’s not surprising then, that the time has come for a refresh of his darts. Could this new version result in Stephen recapturing his best?

  • Product: Darts (Steel Tip)
  • Brand: Target
  • Model: Stephen Bunting (Gen3)
  • Variation: 12g (90% Tungsten)
  • RRP: £39+
  • Marks: 7 – 9 /10 (overall 8/10)
  • First Impressions: After ‘The Bullet’ stuttered during 2017 & 18 he, and Target, seems to have gone back to basics here. Out goes the strawberry grip and the golden styling.
  • The Gen 3 is totally smooth but has a slight bulb toward the point (6.9mm widest). A flat smooth area lengthens the gradient from a narrower section to the curved nose area. A little like smooth Dennis Priestley darts. A lovely feeling dart that warms quickly and then is surprisingly grippy. At 48mm long it is much longer than most ultralight darts.


In the Box: Fitted with short traditional points and set up with Pro Grip Target Stems, in medium length, and Bullet logo flights, black & red. All contained within the standard target packaging. A nice overall image and coordinated colour scheme is the result.

Testing Procedure: As usual, we used three players with different styles and skill levels. This time an elite player, a youth player and a decent amateur all were enthusiastic to try these highly unusual arrows. An initial practise session was used to adapt and then two more sessions were held over the next couple of weeks.

One of our players used these over a social darts evening with a group of friends. Another tried an open event in the Midlands. Overall the Gen 3 had well over 100 legs worth of use and were given a thorough work-out.

Results & Reactions:

  • Elite: Struggled with the weight initially. These are ten grams lighter than his usual choice. After adapting, however, our elite player enjoyed using these in practice. Trying to use them in a competitive leg seems to prove too much.
  • Strong Amateur: Our strong amateur player uses quite a light dart by choice and is quite wristy. This seemed to suit and it did not take long until our player was as effective with these as with his default arrows. He liked the smooth grip and the slight bulge made the dart feel more secure in his fingers. With time and practise he is sure these would become his new ‘weapon of choice’!
  • Youth: Our youth player was perhaps the least impressed of our testers. The short barrel was not easy for him to get used too and no comfortable grip could be found. The desperate remedy of a social night out, mixed with alcohol, was used. Could a less focused environment help? Sadly, this was not much of a success, although others who attended the evening got on much better, with the Bunting darts, than our player. Including somone who had never played before!

Comments:
A.I.M:An excellent dart if you can persevere with getting used to such a light option with no apparent grip. Many will lose patience but those who didn’t may become permanent converts“. We notice that “players with less preconceptions are much more positive to these darts and perform well with them”.

I loved these and may get myself some on payday. The little bulge makes all the difference from other lightweights I have tried. These feel much better” – Amateur 1.

I liked these but could not translate practise into match form. Perhaps they would work as a practice aid?” – Elite Player.

Marks: The marks varied between a 7 from our youth player, generous because he saw others get on with them, and a nine from our strong amateur player. very light and smooth darts are always likely to polarise opinion. They do not obey convention and take time to master. But the overall 8/10 is pretty good for such a specialist dart.

This review also appeared at dartsworld.com and may feature in forthcoming Darts World ( Print/Digital) magazine editions.


A.I.M: Manufacturers Championship 2019

Who builds the better team? Who makes the best signings? Who improves & develops players? Who is the best Manufacturer / Sponsor?

outline and tungsten

For 2019 A.I.M are presenting a simplified Manufacturers Championship version that should be interesting but not over techie or insider nonsense.

A.I.M use the PDC ranking events as a base. In each event, those who reach the Qtr Final or better will score points for their dart supplier/sponsor. Winner will get 10 points, runner / up 5, Semi 3 and Qtrs 1. In the case of televised major,  such as the upcoming UK Open, this will be doubled. For The World Championships, the multiplier will be 2.5. As an amendment, we add the BDO majors for the overall table.

Early Season Skirmishes

The first four ranking events of the season, Pro Tours 1-4, feature the return of a classic dart brand and a rebalancing between the other big names. Another classic brand/manufacturer took a bit of a beating.

  1. Red Dragon (38)
  2. Target (26)
  3. Unicorn (24)
  4. XQMax (21)
  5. Harrows (15)
  6. Bulls (6)
  7. Winmau (4)
  8. Cosmo (1)
  9. Powercore (1)

Red Dragon managed to head the table overall through scoring in every event with a mix of players. Price has moved up a level whilst Wright, Hendo and Clayton all performed well and scored for the team.

Red Dragon Logo

RD excelling in the constructors’ championship?

Target proved hit or miss with Dave Chisnall ensuring a highlight early on while on other days they did poorly, Ricky Evans has stormed through to provide high quality back up. XQ Max still features well with 21 points (two wins) from the four events. This excellent effort is tempered with the fact that all points were gained through a single player. MVG is clearly carrying this vehicle. Unicorn managed to spread their effort across more players including some newcomers including Harry Ward ( Gavin Carlin may well push them over the top as his darts look very like Unicorn Grippers to me!) and in every event, they will also benefit from the return of Gary Anderson.

Harrows made a welcome return to the higher ranks. Their retention of Glenn Durrant ensures they have another iconic name and their 15 points were all gained by the debut-making northeasterner. Josh Payne may also add to Harrows success and represent the younger generation. Bulls continued there recent success with James Wattinema claiming five points with a final appearance. Lees established or smaller brands have yet to make much of a dent in the 2019 table. Cosmo nicked points through Steve West’s efforts and Powercore look to have done well by snapping up Ryan Searle. Perhaps the most surprising was the paltry 10 points picked up by Winmau. Merv King gained them 3 handy points, another was gained by Matt Edgar who despite not having an official dart supplier uses a Winmau Navigator set.

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Harrows returned to the PDC in style.

 Transfers / Signings Activity & Gossip.

Recent gossip about Adrian Lewis leaving Target seems to have died down. His end of season rally in 2018 may well have reminded them of his value. It remains to be seen whether Harrows decide to back up their outfit with another UK / European player or two. Winmau clearly needs a shot in the arm. Their main player roster looks a little one dimensional and although none of them should be written off they do look a little vulnerable to a changing of the guard. Gurney carrying the new generation banner almost alone seems tough. Nathan Aspinall’s move to Target should not surprise anyone as they seem very keen to add proven young talent to their stable, even if it is riskier than their previous ‘darting galacticos’ strategy. Unicorn look a little vulnerable in depth terms. Their team are performing very well but Wade needs to be ber very careful, Gary Anderson seems injury prone and Jelle Klaasen is totally out of sorts. If they can find a star name to prise away from elsewhere to join them it should not be a surprise. Look out for smaller companies or those from the Far East making an impact again soon. In recent years they have been very successful it seems unlikely that this would simply stop. Powercore’s gamble on Ryan Searle, for example, looks a fine bet.

Whether the major companies attempt to poach Clemens, Searle et al may worth keeping an eye on. Do Evo, Powercore, and others, have the reach or ability to develop? Are the contracts solid enough to ensure they get the benefits of their risk/investment?

 

 

A.I.M: Darts Manufacturers Championship 2018, Unicorn retain their dominance.

A.I.M have been closely observing darts for close to a decade. Whether it’s for coaching players, designing/testing products or advising clients, the progression of everything darts is important to us. Who add value to their players? Which have the best signing success? Who is on the up? Who has past their peak?

Unicorn Logo

Despite staying relatively quiet, Team Unicorn has retained its dominance in overall success.

Along the way, we produced a simple league table for comparing the success of darts manufacturers. We use PDC ranking events as a base. Then we add selected major events from the BDO. The players who reach the last 8 of Pro Tour events receive 1 point, semi-finalists 3, Runner Up 5 and the Winner receive 10. These points are doubled for majors and multiplied by 2.5 for the world championships. To ensure maximum openness we use ranking events only. Here is the 2018 Constructors Table:

outline and tungsten

  1. Unicorn (381) 
  2. XQ Max (205)
  3. Red Dragon (199.5)
  4. Winmau (172.5)
  5. Target (161.5)
  6. Bulls (120.5)
  7. Cosmo (48)
  8. One80 (45)
  9. Harrows (13)
  10. Bit of Bully (9.5)

When it comes to signing players, the biggest, and longest established, companies attempt to combine a handful of legendary names with a few of current champions and a smattering of players they believe may move up a level. Recently more female players, players from mainland Europe or Asia, and more youth development have been added. Newer or smaller companies try to spot undiscovered or undervalued talent or back players with a legacy that may sparkle again. This has worked well for Powercore ( Ryan Searle) & Bit of Bully (Ryan Joyce) and Evo-Darts (Gabriel Clemens) for example.

Despite the attention given to other companies in recent years, Unicorn has again managed to produce a squad of players that perform in every type of event and combines dominant champions with other talented winners. Their 2nd group seem to step up regularly and when required. XQ Max has again relied totally on MVG for their points but his prolific form ensures this remains a successful strategy.

Red Dragon Logo
RD excelling in the constructor’s championship. 

Red Dragon has continued their upward momentum and is neck and neck with XQ Max in the PDC table ahead of them when the BDO events are included. The progress of Gerwen price has added another elite level player to Team RD who look more balanced. Their long term support of players is also looking productive. Both Jamie Lewis and Johnny Clayton seem to have benefited from the supportive, family atmosphere that RD create.

Target Dart Logo

Target’s massive investment, in players, designs and marketing, had been paying great dividends. This may have plateaued in 2018. Their old guard are heading into retirements and some of their other top stars had slow years. Rob Cross, Chizzy, Alan Norris and others did not produce their best last years and as such Target slipped into a distant fifth place. Winmau also underperformed for such a famed brand and will need to rework their line up in the coming years or so. They have great ambassadors, who are still playing well, but only Gurney is consistently gaining them high levels of attention.

Eric Wins 3 in a row

The 1st player to win the three in a row. Bristow has been joined by Duzza, another Harrows player.

Harrows, darting royalty to many, made a low key return to the success on the PDC side in 2018. Josh Payne claimed a Pro Tour title and is generally progressing very typically for a Harrow’s player. Three-time Lakeside Champ Glen Durrant will ensure this name is seen across the codes in 2019.

All in all, it was a ‘steady as you go’ year across the PDC ranking events. Red Dragon performed well and look to be on the up. Unicorn’s long practised strategy again proved correct and most of the other big names dipped a little. The rise of  One80 (in the BDO) & the Independents is good to see and may well continue through to 2019. A.I.M will repeat the exercise and see which Team’s signings, and development, progress the most. 

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501 or More: Phil Taylor Generation 3, are they really worth £78?

The 3rd generation Target & Taylor Dart. Style, Substance or both?

The 3rd generation Target & Taylor Dart. Style, Substance or both?

Although not quite in the league of the recent Elysian Special Edition darts, retailing at £300, it’s still a hefty price to pay for a set of arrows. But let’s give the latest Target Taylor collaboration a real going over and see what we made of them.

First Impressions.

The external packaging is typical of target and displays the dart and the marketing image very well. Plenty of gold and silica colour. Inside the darts are protected by a foam mount, It is still a shame that target prefer not to supply premium cases with their premier darts, included are three barrels, three matching Gen 3 silica stems and three of the smallest vapour flights.

The appearance of the dart is definitely in the “Dart Art” class. From the natural point and nose cone through the gold and silica main barrel and to the silica rear section and stem, the impression is of a sleek aerodynamic missile designed to seek out its target (no pun intended).

What’s New?

Actually quite a lot in some ways. Gone are the blue highlighted flat grip sections on the rear of the dart, also the blue highlighted grip pieces on the nose cone have gone. The full pixel grip across the mid section of the barrel is no more.

Additions include the barrel being longer so the “as one ” idea of stem and barrel survives but with differing proportions. The 22g for example is 45mm instead of 41mm. Barrel width is almost identical in each weight. Add the supplied grooved stem and there is a totally smooth transition through to the flight.

Will the 3rd Generation Target Dart hit the spot for The Power?

Will the 3rd Generation Target Dart hit the spot for The Power?

Grip

The Gen 3 has a sectional grip starting from the nose cone, which is completely smooth, next comes a five-line pixel grip section highlighted gold, the third section is a seven line ring cut section more reminiscent of many Unicorn darts. It is situated well for those who hold the middle or rear of the dart. Finally comes a silica pixel grip through to smooth stem junction (and grooved stem base if you fit the supplied accessories).

Overall there is good grip on each section of the barrel and a tried and tested combination on the middle and rear sections. If you hold toward the rear it is very comfortable in combination with the stem. Changing stems does alter the feel and the hold balance. A medium length tapered stem and normal size a standard shape seems to lead to more momentum for the dart and a nicer angle of entry for the taller player.

Barrel Coating.

The combination between the gold highlighting and the silica coating is a very good touch. It seems to wear well and gives a very nice non sticky feel. For this style of barrel this may be targets best combination, of cosmetics and functionality, yet.

Points.

The standard fitted points are absolutely fine and, due to the dart requiring a steady consistent approach, storms or similar are not needed.

Flights.

The new vapour flights are remarkably small and not for an average player. The control and consistency needed is of a very high level and takes huge concentration. However they do provide a good tool for practising. After using a normal flight, for a few legs, try switching to these to see how controlled you are throwing and how long you can maintain it.

Overall.

This is a superb quality dart in term of design, build and appearance. Its advantages include the slightly longer length, narrower nose and excellent feel. Drawbacks are the high level of control needed and the likelihood of players needing to use their own set ups.

Could the Gen 3 be the best thing since Unicorn's Phase 5?

Could the Gen 3 be the best thing since Unicorn’s Phase 5?

Overall then the £78 is a very high cost for a product that may not suit many players. A good strategy would be to test throw at least one similarly designed dart such as a phase 5 rosso, or even a heavy Sigma 970, with a similar stem and flight set up added. If you get on well with the trial it may well be worth the investment. If you cannot succeed with the test, then only spend the £78 if you can’t resist the looks!

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Red Dragon Punching Above Their Weight? Constructors Championship ’16 Update 1

 RD excelling in the constructors championship?

RD excelling in the constructors championship?

For the initial season, of the AIM constructors championship, teams, companies and players have had a few of each type of event before the initial table. Thus with almost a third of the season gone, 15 PDC Pro/Euro Tour Events complete, and the season’s first TV major complete here is a first look at the table:

Current League Table (May 5th 2016).

£=Points (PDC Ranking Qtr final onwards)

1 – XQ Max – 207.75

2- Red Dragon – 116

3 – Unicorn – 110.25

4 – Target – 105.75

5 – Winmau – 53.25

6 – Monster – 23.25

7 – Bulls – 17

8 – Harrows – 12.25

How points are scored:  https://aimadjuster.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/darts-a-constructors-championship/

XQ Max Lead the Pack.

The Green Machine. Helping XQ reach a large market?

The Green Machine. Helping XQ reach a large market?

The small be very well-formed Dutch company are flying in 2016. With the almost unstoppable MVG leading the way. Only failing to score once as a group and Benito VDP providing some of the strongest opposition to MVG mean that XQ are proving that quality over quantity can be a very successful strategy. Wins in all ranking formats and VVV chipping in on quieter weekends has meant huge exposure for the recently formed successor to Masterdarts. In addition the habit of their players all having individual/XQ set means they lead the way in the accessories area as well. Adding Andy Hamilton to the stable should prove worth a watch. Andy can produce superb stuff when he feels believed in, will it happen again here?

Red Dragon Excelling!

Young Nathan Aspinall playing the role of David to James Wade's Goliath in 2015

Young Nathan Aspinall playing the role of David to James Wade’s Goliath in 2015.

Although RD could be described as Winmau’s little brother, it still must be remembered that compared to some of the other names they are relatively small, budget and marketing are restricted and retail presence is purely online. Thus to be above both Target and Unicorn as well as big brother Winmau is a remarkable effort. The combination of a select group of quality players who have been with them a while, Wright & Thornton being the best examples, together with a policy of giving players an opportunity to come through is working very well. Gerwen Price, Daryl Gurney, Andy Gilding and have come through the system. It appears that RD’s second front is coming through!

What’s Up with Target & Winmau

Target Dart Logo

With the League being based purely on PDC ranking events all is not lost for two of the biggest names in darts. Yet in the case of Target it appears to be a poor return on a huge investment. Innovative darts and complimentary accessories, together with some of the greatest players, should be a sure recipe for dominance or at minimum competing at the very top. 4th position in both Dart & Accessories tables is simply not good enough. All style and no substance? Unbalanced team? The majors should assist them in climbing the table, but rankings do not last forever.

The Bronzed Adonis. Still Flying the flag for Winmau

The Bronzed Adonis. Still Flying the flag for Winmau

The situation looks even worse for Winmau, perhaps the oldest and most respected name in darts, are simply having a poor spell. Some of their established stars have endured tough times. There are some signs of recovery, Whitlock & Webster are beginning to return to some sort of form and may well haul Winmau further up the table. It should also be remembered that Winmau are more closely associated with the BDO, where they have the reigning world champion and have recently signed up the superb Jeff Smith. Can they really afford to stand still in regard to the PDC arena? The impression of a stable of former champions and ageing stars in harder to shake off.

Best of The Rest?

Jelle K

Both Monster and Bulls have made decent starts to the season thanks to their stars. Monster are heavily dependant on Jelle Klaasen (As are L style in the Accessories table). Bulls are quietly producing an excellent stable of, mainly European, players. Mensur is obvioulsy the main source of points but others such as Max Hopp & Dave Pallet are chipping in and have strong futures ahead. A special mention to Elven Darts. As an independent handmade producer, of bespoke darts, it is superb to see them register. The return of Harrows to the frontline, of the PDC, is to be warmly welcomed. A name of real pedigree with a small stable of quality players covering all darting areas. Their policy of selecting small numbers and backing them well may pay off with young Josh Payne.

Finally V180 deserve great credit, not only do they make the chart, they would feature a great deal higher if introducing great players gained points! With Chizzy, Bunting, Norris and more being given chances in the recent past.

Dave Chisnall

Set Up / Accessories

Its bad news for those trying to make an impact with accessory systems. So far only Jelle Klaasen making a real impact whilst using L Style flight and stem set ups. Cosmo seem to be slipping backwards with their players struggling and non of the top section adopting their products.

Cosmo Logo

It would be interesting to see whether this is due to players sponsors not allowing the combination or genuine preference for other types. Some manufacturers are missing a trick by not providing branded accessories or producing ones to their players needs. Unicorn still seem to ensure that almost every sponsored player uses either personalised unicorn products or their branded items, target similarly. Red Dragon & others may be missing out a little here.

Unicorn Logo

As the second section of the season continues with more European Tour events, and Pro Tour weekends, coming together with The World Matchplay amongst others. Will XQ continue their excellent season. Can Red Dragon stay ahead of their rivals and will Target & Winmau get back in the race?

 

 

 

Darts, The Technology Game? Part II

In the first part of , The Technology Game? we looked at the recent explosion in technology innovations and advances that have been introduced over the last decade or so. Here in Part II  we will look at Flights, Stems, Points and more. The main areas covered in Part 1 included; Premium marketing, barrel design and grip variations. All have been given a high profile in the last 5-10 years. The jury was still out on the success or necessity of these idea’s and whether they truly have added to the improvement of players at either amateur or professional level.

There are two other area in which  R & D and sales and marketing  booms have taken place:

Accessories: Flights, Stems and more.

a new breed? One of a number of interlocking flight and stem systems available.

a new breed? One of a number of interlocking flight and stem systems available.

From dart’s earliest commercial days, the variations in the additions to the barrel have been as numerous and interesting as to the barrels themselves. Flight materials changed from feather to imitation feather, then plastic, rip stop material and then thinner and thinner polymer types. The shape varied enormously over the years, with the what is now referred to a the standard shape as well as pear shapes, kite shapes and variations up the theme. In recent years designs such as fantail, V wing, tomahawk, slim, DSX and numerous others have been introduced. In the case of stems/shafts the variations have also been coming thick and fast since the 1970’s. From the initial wooden canes, lightweight plastics, steel, aluminium, titanium, one piece or separate items, side loading (Slik Stix) and now, coming full circle with, the current combination flight & stem sets, made from plastic/polymers by manufacturers such as Cosmo or L Style, offering a fixed single unit. At the same time length of stem and the correct combinations have moved back and forth quite considerably.

An L Style Flight & Stem Combo
Again the idea of premium products that will add to your game and provide a glamorous look has been deployed by the manufacturers. Whilst a basic flight stem and fixing set can still be bought for less than £1 where as a combination of the latest Target Pixel Stems & Phil Taylor Flights will cost around £15, alternatively the one piece systems offered, by various manufacturers, cost between £8 and £15 per set up.

Taylor 9Five Gen 2. Too much tech?

Taylor 9Five Gen 2. Too much tech?

All of these changes and developments have,  claimed either logical or scientific, reasons they will improve upon the existing templates. Amongth these are; faster speed through the air, more aerodynamic profiles, less weight, better balance, additional grip and a host of other claims. many have been used and endorsed by professional players and have gone on to win titles or great matches. World Championships have been won with standard flights, smaller standard flights, pear-shaped flights and others. stem length has varied a little and fixings of flight to stem have also varied. But is this through real improvement or simply great players being able to use differing equipment with which they felt comfortable at any one time?

If we again look at the top twenty players we will see how this has panned out of the last twenty years or so, again we shall also look at the next generation of players and see if changes are imminent? In terms of flight shape, the standard shape is used by almost all of the top twenty PDC players. The size and shape varies a little but are described as standard. Taylor uses a unusual very slim “lightning bolt” design. Brendon Dolan will be associated with Kite shaped as he hit his double start 9 darter with them and Barney changes often! The slight size variation is claimed to either assist in the flight, improve visibility, and reduce deflections.

The current & double world champion uses a simple no nonsense set up.

The current & double world champion uses a simple no nonsense set up.

In terms of stem set up the evidence is simple overwhelming. Phil uses some of the innovative design, metallic stems but almost every other player in the top twent uses a nylon/plastic/ carbon fibre stem, most use a stem ring of some description and a majority seem are between 35 and 44mm in length. These can be bought for less than £2 per set up even for branded items, generic versions can be bought for pennies.

Classic but still hugely popular.

Classic but still hugely popular.

When we tested these combinations and asked many top players most players agreed that weight and simplicity to change easily were the reasons they believed the simple set ups were best. For the average player or beginner cost is also a large factor.

The above is not to say that success cannot be achieved with other designs and set ups. Dolan used a simple kite flight and lengthy aluminium stem for his 9 darter, Steve Beaton has used Standards, Oversized Pear Flights and both short and longer stems, usually aluminium to huge success over a 30 year career. It does suggest that, with the odd exception, simplicity is the key here and that over design or elaboration is unnecessary.

Points

Smoothing out junction between barrel and stem as well as griping both board and finger, a true innovation?

Smoothing out junction between barrel and stem as well as griping both board and finger, a true innovation?

Although a rather vital element, of the dart, for many years points were pretty much left alone. Slight changes in colour or size seemed almost accidental. The North Americans favoured a longer point many player customised their own points. However it was pretty ad hoc and unsystematic. The last few years however have seen some dramatic changes. Grooved or diamond cut points, for either increased board grip or finger placement, have made a large impact. Knurled points with a section to rest the finger against  prove popular and more recently the “Storm” point innovation, this makes the barrel and point almost seemless. many advantages are claimed by designers and makers of these points and there seems to be merit in them. Storm points reduce damage to flight set up and may be a factor in the simplicity trend? Grip on points has seemed to reduce fall outs, (except on bad Unicorn days!) Many top players use one innovation or more. The many different combination of possible grip and point shape allow a high level of personalisation to an area previously not explored or marketed.

Two commercial bonus spring to mind, though there are more, firstly the increased roughness of many points may increase the wear and tear on boards and results in lower expectations for durability and more regular purchase, also points of various types can be easily fitted to many other darts, not brand specific, again allowing limitless experimentation with and customization of equipment. In short, point development, and technology, may be one area in which genuine improvement and innovation have been brought to modern darts.

Being certain that your fingers are accurately placed can certainly add to the repitition of your throw.

Being certain that your fingers are accurately placed can certainly add to the repitition of your throw.

Technology Game?

It is hard to fully assess the impact of technology and innovation over recent years. Firstly many of the innovations are not really new, they are re packaged or cosmetic developments based on previous items. Secondly the facts that a very small number of modifications have been accepted, by an even smaller number of the top players, at the top end of the game suggests that they do not feel anything is added to their performance. This however may be misleading as most have not grown up with the newer idea’s and may have been conditioned to be afraid of change or suspicious of tech. Yet it still appears to be the case with the best teenage players?

On the plus side, the huge volume of choice available to the average player is great for the game, conversations about new ideas , designs and equipment are always held amongst players, of all levels, and nearly everyone is willing to give things a try. The research and development undertaken by manufacturers after a slice of the market improves choice of kit and maker. Quality overall is probably improved by modern methods, and thus some of the premium accessory items can last a very long time.

However for those starting out the best advise may still be to try as many sets as you can manage to get a rough idea of the weight and style you like.  Then find a dart shop with try and buy facilities. Once you think you have found a set you like, match them up with relatively cheap flights, stems, springs etc that you can keep replacing or even varying for very little cost. Make use of buy,swap, sell web sites or Facebook groups, these can allow you to test darts and accessories without losing all your initial costs. Keep checking in with AIM for our players guide to selecting darts!

In our experience it is the player and their efforts, that make the difference, not the tech. Within the last five years a number of players over the age of 30 have come through the ranking to occupy high position or do well in TV events.

One of these used a dart that is over 25 years old. Not just the design but the actual set! A medium length nylon stem and stem ring is combined with an everyday pattern dimplex flight. This dart and set up reached the big 5 major PDC events and at times averaged well in excess of 100 whilst, both Pro Tour and in majors, 15+ consequetive legs were won against the worlds best including MVG!

The Asp. Grandad knows best?

The Asp. Grandad knows best?

In addition last years runner up in the world youth championships, Nathan Aspinall, uses darts that, either came from or, were inspired by his Grandad.

 

Darts, The Technology Game? Part 1

The Tech Explosion.
As with many sports, darts has been inundated with “technological” advances over recent years. Due to the large audience, increased exposure and huge participant numbers, manufacturers have been seeking to develop products that will tempt the ordinary player and, perhaps, give professional players that extra % that will make all the difference.
One of the great advantages of darts, as a participant sport, is its relatively inexpensive nature. A decent board, other items needed, in order to play the game can be obtained and installed for less £100 or even less than £50 with the help of Ebay or swap & sell sites.
Surges in popularity of Golf & Tennis, among others, also lead to technological leaps, both for amateurs and at the professional level. Yet in these sports the advances can be clearly demonstrated, explained and sometimes obviously visible. Sweet spots, head size, string power or spin generation, length of shot, reduction of mis-hits etc.
The biggest change in darts was the use of denser metals, such as tungsten, in order to make darts thinner at the preferred weights. Tennis and golf have had their equivalents with changes in shaft and frame material respectively. Again in such sports these changes lead to measurable increasing in power, durability, flexibility etc.
A few years ago however darts manufacturers began to introduce other changes. With these came increased costs and what could be termed premium level darts and accessories. Along with the design “innovations” came new cosmetics and terminology in order to persuade players that these items could really make a difference to them. At the highest level players were tinkering, with the help of manufacturers, almost constantly to create the impression of an evolving process, thus meaning new generations of players, or classic, darts and the creation of a market that now sees many amateur players changing darts annually or even more often! It seems that a combination of sport tech and mobile phone / football shirt fashion have entered into the game.

 Do darts Innovations Work?

There are three main area’s where advances are claimed. Barrel design, and manufacture, accessories that complete the dart, often known as the “Set Up” and more recently the third area, point design and manufacture.

The Start of The Technology Game in Modern Darts?

The Start of The Technology Game in Modern Darts?

 

The recent increase in these areas of innovation can probably be traced back to Unicorn’s, and Phil Taylor’s, development of development of the Sigma dart. Much fanfare was brought to the creation of this ( Phase 4?) dart. Could “The Power” be made even better? Rocket scientists were apparently involved, later known as UniBoffins! and “dart & accessories designed to be as one” from point to flight became a watchword.

These darts were then packaged in premium cases and sold with serial numbers and assured weights, laser etched on the barrels, and quality guaranties etc. These were short-lived in terms of Phil’s use and , due to his struggles, The Phase 5 was swiftly introduced. Yet the die was cast and the annual launch, technology heavy and premium looking package, formula now became the norm.

Slick marketing, space age tech and premium sets. The new way?

Slick marketing, space age tech and premium sets. The new way?

Hidden in this tale, however, is a possibility that manufacturers would not like to dwell on. Namely, that the advances are myths and depend totally upon the player. “The Power” could not get on with the newly created darts, something had to be done, so some old tech, the “John Lowe”barrel,  was swiftly adapted into the Phil Taylor Phase 5. Even the one piece side loading stem was very similar to those used by Lowe and others in the 1980’s. Taylor went from strength to strength, different editions of the Phase 5 were launched, colour hjgcoordinated and coated for fashion preference and the day was saved, The Phase 5 is now known as the most successful dart ever made.

Despite being based on very old tech. The Phase 5 follows the same formula and triumphs.

Despite being based on very old tech. The Phase 5 follows the same formula and triumphs.

Barrels & Grip

If barrel technology was moving the game forward at rapid speed, or had changed anything significant, the current crop of the games elite would be using different equipment, or much improved versions, than those of 10 or 20 years ago. If we allow the argument that those players had grown up with the older equipment, and struggled to change, then surely the younger generation coming through would be using newer  kit or dramatic variations of the older styles.

Yet a good look at the rankings may show us a different story. The top twenty PDC players include players whose age range is from mid fifty’s to early twenties. They are a mix of players, some who have grown up with darts early TV age and those who will have been heavily influenced by the more modern Sky/PDC game. They also differ in speed, style, rythym just as much as previous generations.

Of the current top twenty. Eleven use a  straight or tapered barrel with a cut grip. These are either simple ring cut, combination cut or a “purist style” cut. Phil is currently the only player in the top 20 using a classic Lowe/Sigma barrel and similar set up. Of the other eight players, two use knurled grip barrels, variations of these have been around for decades. Too more use very smooth barrels of slightly different types. Although Stephen Bunting is trying various new grips, his most successful darts were very light, simple and smooth. Jelle Klassen and Simon Whitlock are using an interesting looking barrels, yet upon close inspection they have much in common with other tapered nose barrelled with ring cuts placed where they like them and a scallop or similar toward the rear of the dart. Even the weight used by players is not changing greatly. Phil’s 26g is still at the high end, Bunting at the lower end with 12-17g. The vast majority seem to sit between 20 & 22g. Not much has changed here (for example John Lowe prefered 21.5g) in over over thirty years. It does seem however that lighter darts have the slight upper hand. Priestley, Hankey and Bunting have won world titles using 17g or less. The 21g or less professional group seems to be gaining momentum.

 

Ultimate Retro? Dolans history making darts. Simple, tungsten, ring grip darts.

Ultimate Retro? Dolans history making darts. Simple, tungsten, ring grip darts.

What of the younger generation of players, perhaps less set in their ways or more open to the newer styles? Micheal Smith uses a very simple ring cut barrel with soft snub nose, Dave Pallet uses Adrian Lewis  type darts made either by Unicorn or Bulls. It is a tapered nose edition with ring step cuts all the way down. Keegan Brown uses a Unicorn dart that uses simple cut sections and smooth blanks. It looks like cross between Barney, Bob Anderson and some One80 barrels.

Bully Boys darts are again simple, ring grip darts,slightly snubbed nose. No Whistles or bells.

Bully Boys darts are again simple, ring grip darts,slightly snubbed nose. No Whistles or bells.

The newer grips that are being developed, produced and marketed include nano grip, pixel grip, micro grip, diamond grip and more. None of these have yet made the grade in terms of a player coming through having adopted one of these from early in their career or changed to one and transformed their performance. Although a special mention should go to Red Dragon/Winmau here. Around 2010/11 they introduced the diamond fusion grip. Selected designs of premium darts were made with an encrusted diamond grip on sections of the barrels.

Diamond Grips for Diamond White?

Diamond Grips for Diamond White?

After trying various darts and set ups, during a “fitting session” Ian Diamond White was suggested to try the 22g edition. They were very familiar to him in shape, style weight & balance, the additional grip and security, of the diamond idea, seemed to really fit with Ian and over the next couple of years his career did indeed go to the next level. The problem is, this process had already started, Ian had qualified for the G Slam and Worlds in the previous few months and was already on a steep upward curve. It is very difficult to be sure how much the grip chance added to that. However I do believe it provided a confidence in his eqipement, and in turn his game, that helped him improve quicker and maintain his highest standard for longer periods. It is interesting that they have now introduced this into more models, in the Winmau Range, and Peter Wright’s Euro 11 dart. This is very similar to MVG’s dart. The combination of the two could be very interesting.

In some ways grip fashion is moving backwards, there is a renewed appetite for older style copper tungsten, and other mixed material, darts. This seems to be due to the fact that the metal, combined with use , sweat etc., seems to produce a natural grip not dependent on the added factors. Could this be due to added or surface grip wearing and being less consistent over time?

As can be seen the jury is still out on “technological advances” in the barrel and grip areas. Yet the development, presentation and marketing of these premium products goes from strength to strength. Makers such as Cosmo package their darts more like jewellery than sports items with Target’s recent £300 Elysian darts illustrating the extreme end of such a market.

Ultimate in Premium product marketing. Target's £300 darts!

Ultimate in Premium product marketing. Target’s £300 darts!

What about “set ups” can technology and innovation help the pro’s or the rest of us when it comes to flights, stems and other accessories?

Point, Barrel, Stem & Flight all as one. Fact or fiction?

Point, Barrel, Stem & Flight all as one. Fact or fiction?

The answer here may be even clearer……..

See Part II

 

 

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