Just When You Think You Hit The Bulls Eye!
Who doesn’t love throwing darts? Not only is it insanely fun, but it can get pretty competitive. Like most people, I usually play a couple rounds when in the company of my mates. What starts off as a relaxed low energy game, quickly turns into something loud and competitive…..it’s no more time pass and hanging out while drinking a beer, everyone wants to win!
In the company of friends, throwing darts beats playing video games in every way!
Throwing darts is not only fun and exhilarating, but hardly requires any setup. Get your darts out and start throwing!
But what about in the long run? Is there any maintenance required? Yes, absolutely there is! In particular, you need to care for and maintain both the dartboard as well as each individual dart. If you’re interested in reading about dartboard maintenance, here’s an awesome write-up from Winmau you should check out. Concerning dart maintenance, let’s talk sharpening for a moment. Here’s a few reasons why you should consider sharpening your blunt/dull darts:
- They cause excessive wear on your dartboard over time.
- Because they don’t penetrate the board, they have the potential to ricochet and land somewhere undesirable. Believe it or not, this is a safety concern!
- Last but definitely not least, they frustrate the heck out of you. Just when you think you hit the bulls eye….sigh followed by a face palm!
A Quick Note On Sharpening Steel Tip Darts
Before we talk about sharpening, what is the best condition our darts should be in? Is it true that the sharper the dart, the better? Let me start of by saying sharpening a dart is not the same as sharpening a knife. As far as knife sharpening is concerned, the goal is usually to grind as sharp an edge possible, often referred to as a “mirror edge”. This is not the goal when we sharpen darts. Our goal with darts is to create a rounded point. Extremely sharp dart tips, just like dull tips will cause your board to wear. Also, they may not stick to a board as well. Here’s an interesting write-up from Cyberdarts that talks about why dart tips need to be rounded. I encourage you to check it out!
Now that we got that outta the way….let’s talk about how to actually sharpen steel tip darts!
#1 Use A Round Dart Sharpener
“What in the world is a dart sharpener?” I didn’t know there was such a thing either, until recently. For all of you who don’t know, a dart sharpener is basically a small cylindrical tool (made from stone) with a hole in one end. How does it work? Simple. Place the dart tip inside the hole, and rotate in small circular motions against the stone. Think of how you stir a spoon after adding some sugar to your coffee. That’s the exact motion you should mimic! How long should you continue doing this? Unfortunately, there isn’t a set amount of time to follow. Keep swirling the dart in circular motions, and pause to observe the tip every 30 seconds. When you notice the tip is well rounded, that’s your cue to stop. What next? Give it a couple throws on your board! If it still ricochets, repeat the process with the dart sharpener for a couple minutes more. Watch how 1988 world champion Bob Anderson sharpens his darts! (all credit to Videojug).
A round dart sharpener will generally help achieve two things:
- It Will Remove The Burr—What is a burr? The way I think of it, burrs are tiny imperfections left on a material surface. Most burrs are all microscopic and very rarely can they be seen with the naked eye. A round dart sharpener removes these burrs or tiny imperfections.
- Creates A Rounder Dart—Remember, our goal is to get the tip to be rounded, and that’s exactly what a round dart sharpener does! Calling it a sharpener isn’t exactly accurate because it doesn’t sharpen per se. It simply rounds and removes burr.
You can find round dart sharpeners readily online. Here’s what I would recommend:
#2 Nothing Sandpaper Can’t Fix!
Because of its abrasive qualities, sandpaper can be used to sharpen pretty much anything. Know what the best part is though? You can buy different grits of sandpaper for only a couple dollars! I’ve seen people who swear by this stuff, so much so that they use it to sharpen their knives.
But how do you go about using sandpaper to sharpen a dart tip? It’s actually pretty simple. You take a small piece of sandpaper in your hand, and place your dart tip inside. Grip the sandpaper so that it fully covers the surface around the tip. Now roll your dart in a clockwise counter clockwise alternating motion against the sandpaper grain. Remember, we only want to rub around the tip, so avoid attempting to sharpen the actual point. Same as above, observe the tip for roundness and give the dart a test throw. Continue the motion if further sharpening is required.
In most cases, a fine or extra fine grit should suffice. If you don’t get results after using fine/extra fine grits, then and only then should you abrade with a coarse sandpaper grit. Why do we want to avoid coarse grits? Simply because we want to minimize the amount of steel removed from our dart.
4 Dart Care Tips You Need To Follow!
It’s well and good that we’ve discussed sharpening, but it shouldn’t end there. Sharpening while important, is only one aspect as far as dart maintenance is concerned. If you want your darts to serve you well, here’s a list of 4 things to follow!
#1 Keep Them Clean & Dry!
Let’s start off simple and easy. Ensure you wash and clean your darts frequently! A clean dart not only grips better, but also performs better when thrown. What’s the best way to clean them you ask? Before we answer that, let’s discuss what exactly needs cleaning. In case you didn’t know darts are made up of 4 different components: a tip, barrel, shaft, and last but not least the flight.
All 4 parts have a specific function, and that’s why proper maintenance of all 4 is absolutely critical. For those of you interested in learning more, here’s an awesome read that talks about dart anatomy. Back to the discussion at hand…..should you clean all 4 parts (tip, barrel, shaft, and flight)? Yes and no. Everyone does it differently, but I usually focus on the barrel more than the other 3. Why the barrel? Because that’s what we grip, so it typically is the dirtiest (usually clogged with sweat and grime). That’s not to say I won’t clean the other parts, I just won’t do it as frequently. Okay, let’s spend some time talking about cleaning.
Important: If you cannot detach the tip, shaft, and flight from the barrel, clean all 4 together. Be very careful with the flight, however. It doesn’t take much to damage or break.
I typically soak the barrel in a container filled with warm water and dish soap (sometimes vinegar if they’re really dirty). I’ll leave them soaked for 15 minutes. Because I clean my darts frequently, I don’t have a hard time getting all the dirt off. I’ve seen videos of people cleaning their darts with ultrasonic cleaners, toothpaste, and all sorts of other weird things. If you clean your darts frequently, you don’t need to do any of these things. After the 15 minute soak, I’ll gently scrub with a toothbrush to get rid of any residual dirt. Once I’m done, I’ll thoroughly dry with a towel. Remember, if there’s even a hint of moisture we could end up with rust!
#2 Don’t Set Your Board Above Concrete Flooring!
This one’s a big deal. Believe it or not, board setup can and will affect your darts. How? If you place your board above a concrete floor for example, every time your darts fall to the floor, they bang against tough, hard concrete. If this happens repeatedly, the tip will bend! Good luck trying to bend it back into place! I’m not in any way suggesting you should take your dart throwing endeavors indoors. All I’m saying is avoid throwing above concrete floors if at all possible. If you have no way around it, buy a couple feet of carpet (won’t cost you much!) and place it directly below your board. At the very least you’ll save your darts from taking the brunt!
#3 Do Not Attempt To Sharpen The Tip!
I said it before and i’ll say it again: do not sharpen the tip on your darts. The tip should be rounded, not pointy. How do you know it is rounded? Lightly run your finger above the tip. If it feels needle sharp such that it could puncture your skin easily, it’s probably too sharp (and pointy). A rounded tip should feel similar to a ball point pen. As you test out your darts, remember to always be careful. Only apply light to minimal pressure when testing a dart on your finger!
#4 Store Your Darts!
After you’re done throwing, don’t forget to store your darts. What’s the best way to store them you ask? There’s a couple different ways to store darts, but my favorite is the nylon storage case. Check out the one below!
There’s a couple things I really like about this:
- It Keeps Moisture Out—Very important! If moisture is present, rust is always a possibility.
- Individual Dart Storage—One dart per insert; this is the proper way to store. If you really wanted to, you could store 2 darts in one insert by placing them in opposite directions (so the tips don’t touch). Never, ever should you clutter your darts!
- Foam Cushioned Inserts—Another cool feature. Unlike other designs, the darts fit snug and won’t become loose during travel.
How do you store your darts….do you use a dart case, or do you use something else? I’m interested to know. Leave it in the comments!
Remember To Keep It Safe!
And that’s a wrap. If you made it till the end, thanks so much for reading. I hope you got some value out of this. If you did, please share on the socials. Also, you can find my links to Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube below. Follow me! To conclude this post, I would like to reiterate one thing:
Dart tips are sharp and can cause injuries! Be safe, not stupid!
If you’re enjoying a pint or two with your mates, remember to keep it safe if you decide to have a game of darts. Lastly, let me know if you have any question by dropping a comment below. Thanks and have an awesome awesome weekend!