You should consider many factors when choosing your dart gear. Comfort is often the first thing players look for, from the dartboard set-up, to the darts you hold in your hand, to your physical comfort when throwing the dart. If you are not comfortable, you will continue to make changes and have less of a chance to develop consistent mechanics and practice habits.
The darts themselves have also progressed along with the technology used to manufacture them. Darts are made up of four components: the points, the barrels, the shafts, and the fletching or flight. In the early days, darts were made of wood, and then progressed to barrels made of metals, such as brass, then copper/tungsten, and more currently tungsten blends. Tungsten in its original form is brittle; therefore, many darts are made from barrels that contain a combination of 80 to 95 percent tungsten mixed with other metals, such as nickel, which adds strength for the manufacturing and milling of the billets. When the barrels were made of wood, you were pretty limited in your choice of the weight of your darts, but with the use of metals such as tungsten, the weight of the dart can now vary anywhere from 12 grams to more than 30 grams. There are certain parts of the United States where the traditional wooden darts, known as “woodies” or “widdy” darts are still used in competitive play and the inclusion of plastic tipped darts used in the electronic dartboards are also prevalent.
Choosing a dart that is right for you is an important step and can sometimes be a very tedious process. The shape of the barrel and feel of the grip of the dart, along with your consistent grip of the dart, is a large facet in maintaining proper mechanics during your throw each and every time. If you move your fingers around to different spots every time you grip the dart, you will then be changing the way you release the dart during every throw. Today there are a wide variety of dart manufacturers, and with the help of modern technology, they are able to use custom lathes that have computers built into them. This allows a manufacturer to program specific barrel designs into the lathe, for a more expedient and detail oriented manufacturing process. These machines have progressed to such an advanced stage that the exact design and dimensions of a dart can be added to the computer, which will then tell the lathe exactly how to cut and shape the tungsten billet with precision automation in minutes.
Darts can now be machined with no grooves or grips all the way up to the roughest of textures. Because there are many varieties of shapes, designs, grips, and grooves to choose from, there is a type of dart that will to suit everyone’s need for either a rough surface or a smooth surface. The shape of the dart that you choose should allow you a consistent grip and the balance of the dart itself, whether it is pencil-shaped or torpedo-shaped, and will be based on how hard or soft you throw the dart. It is said that the best way to find a comfortable grip of the dart is to balance it on your index finger to find the center of balance of the dart, and then add your thumb and additional fingers to support your grip.
The way a dart flies through the air and how it lands on the board can also be the result of the flights and shafts that you choose and are dependent on your form and how you release the dart, along with your mechanics. With so many varieties in a person’s form, along with their height and arm length, which can change the release point from one player to another, you’ll most like choose your set-up based on a trial and error method. What may work for one player may not work for another and making changes and experimenting with other set-ups is always recommended until your narrow down your choices to what you feel is best for you. Once you decide on a set-up, you should stick with it for a determined length of time before deciding whether your set-up is appropriate.
Mr. John Lowe, 3 times World Champion in 3 separate decades ( the 70s, the 80s and the 90s ), the first man to do a 9 darter on TV, explains how to choose a set of darts, aerodynamics, materials, design theory, things to look for and things to look at and so on.