RJB’s Dart Throwing Advice

For a period of time I had a message board on the website. Unfortunately, the spambots ate it. But, I did save some of the better conversations before I took it down, and this one was a gem. A fellow asked for dart throwing advice, and he received a large helpin of it from forum member RJB. It’s definitely worth the read . . .

Texas Cockney

Greetings from the Texas Cockney, Well I originate from London England have been in Texas for 10 years, guess marrying a Texas girl has something to do with it, so about me I have been a British Dart player since the 60’s those were the days of brass and feather darts, now British darts is not just skill but a science, there are 1000’s of types of steel tip darts, with variations in weight, construction, the material the dart is made from, the flight and so on.

So when surfing the web for dart supplies I “stumbled” upon American darts, WOW, this is HISTORY, so basic and yet so cool. It is like gong back in time when darts first started and throwing arrows into the bottom of a barrel. I was hooked, I have purchased a Widdy wood dartboard, a scoreboard and sets of Widdy, Apex and Darto darts, (okay, guess you guys are laughing but remember I am still thinking British Darts science here). The first time I tried playing, it was like going back to dart kindergarten, it was an achievement to get a dart to stick in the board for more than half a second, a true game of skill. However with lots of patience I am starting to get the darts close to where I want them to go.

Unfortunately here in Texas there are not too many people who have even heard of American darts alone played it, so I have been inviting friends round to play, yeah, a Brit telling Americans about American darts, (that sounds like enough to start another revolution), anyway love the game and if there is any avid American dart players out there that want to throw me a few tips, then yes please.

Y’all have a great day

RJB’s Response


The Texas Cockney? Pretty cool, was that inspired by the Crafty Cockney? 

I was impressed by your interest in American darts. I have a buddy originally from Wales who certainly wouldn’t agree. The only darts he’d accept would be steel tip English darts – the game of choice being 501. He’d bring up things like consistent tournament television coverage, large prize money, lively audiences, etc. All good stuff to motivate interest and provide incentive to practice.

As far as tips, well I guess I could give you a few. But I think you are well aware that the grip and throw are very personal (and a shooter can be successful using extremely varied techniques). Anyway, here are a few of my thoughts. 

  • First of all, stick the darts into a potato before each round – that should help keep the darts from falling out of the board.
  • At address, keep your elbow tucked in under your eye – not sticking out to the right (if you are right handed).
  • Be sure to cock your wrist fully as you address the dart to the board. 
  • Try to keep the dart straight and flat to the board throughout your entire throw. Meaning, do not allow it to move left or right or up and down during your throw.

In my opinion, a bad example would be to take the dart back passed your right ear, and then during your throw bring it back to a release point in front of your right eye. Although I must admit that I’ve seen a great shooter do just that.

Anyway, keeping the dart straight to the board at all cost is designed to help you develop a consistent throw that will allow the dart to enter the board and stick straight (not leaning left or right or with feathers high or low). Leaning darts are not the desired result. 

But another tip is that if the dart is leaning left (the feathers to the left with the tip to the right), move left on the oche (toe line) before throwing the next dart.

Another tip is that if you move to the left aim slightly to the left. Typically if you do not change your aim point, the dart will carry further to the right than expected. Again if the dart is leaning right, move right and aim slightly to the right of the desired target. But let me reiterate that we don’t prefer leaning darts.

Another thought is to follow through straight – your arm should be fully extended after release. I don’t recommend a stopping or jabbing action.

And remember to keep your eyes still even after the dart hits the board. Do not peek at where the dart ends up. Try to focus on a single little hole in the board which you will use as your target.

I also suggest you select that single dart hole to be below the double and triple combination area. Basically aim low for your first dart. That means on the high innings like 1, aim to hit a single. That also means for the lower innings like the 3, aim at the triple or even the blue if you tend to hit higher than your target. The idea is to think about stacking your darts – sort of going up the ladder one dart at a time.

To accomplish this, please note that the dart or darts already in the board extend out from the board. So to keep a good group together, you can aim very low for the third dart and it will hit the other darts and produce a very tight group. Don’t aim above the darts already in the board, aim below the location their tips are in the board.

Oh that’s enough (probably more than enough) for now. Take care or should I say cheers!

PS – I was born and raised in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. My personal high game in American darts (the game of baseball) is 65. The last time I shot in the Pennsylvania State Dart Tournament, I averaged 47. But it’s been a while since I’ve thrown any serious darts.Mongoose’s Reply

i’m familiar with running darts up the ladder, so to speak. and i know the pain of throwing a first dart into the blue in the first or fifth inning.

the part about the follow through, or not throwing with a “stopping or jabbing action”, we call that ‘short-arming’ a dart.

you’ve covered a lot of tips – thank you!

one thing that i think about at the board is to attempt to throw the dart through the target (usually the red of the inning) instead of “landing” the dart in the target. kindof like throwing a ball through a hole in the plywood at the carnival games, instead of tossing it and hoping it lands in the right place. 

RJB’s Response

Hello again!

Throwing the dart through the target is an excellent idea – kind of along the lines of the fastest route between two points is a straight line. At times I have even tried to envision a tunnel effect from release point directly into the target. It appears we’re of the same opinion that we do not recommend a looping or floating trajectory.

And I guess I could have started dart tips with some more fundamental things like the stance. If right handed, stand with your right leg forward. In darts you do not step into your throw like in baseball. Also the right leg should be straight or locked (no knee bend). You want to try to eliminate bouncing or other unstable moves. The hope is to limit the moving parts to only your arm (and yes – your fingers). With fewer movements, fewer things can go wrong (at least that’s my opinion).

Now about the grip, well, this is my most troublesome component. I grip with my index finger, middle finger, and my thumb. All three are bent. The thumb and middle finger are basically on the left and right sides of the dart (pinching it). The index finger is above or on top of the dart. Oh and I hold the dart closer to the back of the barrel (near the feathers). I try to have equal pressure on all three fingers. But for some reason the index finger tends to get less grip or pressure when I throw poorly. I have to admit the grip is difficult for me to replicate time and time again. This leads to missed darts more than any other action in my throw. My arm is likely to swing very similarly each throw but any slight deviation on grip could yield a poor dart. Oh well, enough of my difficulties… 

What I like to recommend for beginners is to think vertically while aligning and throwing. Consider a good throw as any three darts that end up in a vertical line in the board. An extreme vertical line example is the 20, cork, and 3 vertically aligned arrangement. If you can start to throw in vertical lines, that eliminates one of the two variables. After getting consistent with vertical efforts, I then suggest moving into thinking horizontally to find the right height to release your dart. Finally I hope to merge both into the right path. Mongoose, do you tend to keep vertical or horizontal alignment in mind? Or have both been ingrained into your throw that you no longer have to think about them? : – )

Before I forget to mention this one, another tip is to step back an inch or so from the line to get your dart to hit a lower target. If, for whatever reason, you are consistently hitting higher than your intended target, you might try moving back a little from the line – instead of altering your throw. It’s kind of a quick fix.

Another unrelated tip is to aim for a higher target if you are nervous. I suggest this because you are likely to short arm it or be more tentative because you are not relaxed. If you are not relaxed you won’t have your normal fluid motion.

And last time I mentioned keeping your elbow tucked in while addressing the dart to the board. One way to get that alignment is to point the dart tip toward your right eye. Notice as you do so the elbow will automatically come in nicely. You will also notice that you have to cock your wrist to get the point in a direct flat line with your eye. Naturally you then have to turn the dart to the board before your throw. When you do, that’s roughly my starting position – at least I hope that all makes sense.

And for now, just one more tip – when you practice, do not do the following. Throw three darts, sit down, have a drink, wait 5 or so minutes, and then get up and throw three more darts into the board, sit down, etc. Meaning, do not think about trying to simulate what happens when you throw in your house league (simulating having to wait for a bunch of other shooters before your next throw). When you practice, throw and throw and throw. I don’t even turn around on my way back from the board. My practice routine has been characterized as thump, thump, thump, three steps back, thump, thump, thump. The goal of practice is to develop sound repetitive actions that will increase your confidence and allow you to replicate it when needed. 

Oh I guess that leads me to one more tip. When you throw in your league, feel free to do a mock first throw without having the dart in your hand. Think of it as a practice throw like a practice golf swing before the real one. I do this before each round – not before each of the three darts – just before the first one. It helps to remind me of what I hope to do on the first dart. To be honest, I haven’t ever seen anyone do this. But I like it. Give it a try.

Mongoose’s Reply

“Mongoose, do you tend to keep vertical or horizontal alignment in mind? Or have both been ingrained into your throw that you no longer have to think about them?”

first off, nothing in my dart game is ingrained enough 

as for alignment, it’s probably inning/first dart dependant. 

for example, i hit a low red in the six. now i’m going up the ladder. if i’d have hit a middle trip, i’m going across towards the cork. 

for practice though, i really like the idea of having a plan for your darts. if you’ve reheasred landing darts vertically, there are so many game situations where you’ve got five laying, and the last dart makes it seven if you can just lay it on top.

making those shots can really boost an average. missing them can really boost your blood pressure.

nice descript on getting the elbow in line.

i know one guy who dry fires before each inning. actually, i think his whole routine is to take the darts from the board, touch the part of the board he wants to land the darts in, back up to the line, then do the fake throw, then throw his darts. 

he can shoot the lights out too.

Author: bob

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