From the early beginnings of the fully wooden dart, the dart shaft has changed and developed to suit the development of darts and flight. In the 1930’s most dart barrels were made from Brass and had a steel tip as per today. Flights were then made mainly from paper which was self-assembled and placed into a wooden dowel shaft which fitted into the back of the dart barrel as seen here.
The development of the dart barrel moved forward to a common 4BA shaft screw fitting now rarely seen in the modern dart. Most darts purchased today still use an imperial thread 2BA. However, a small quantity of 4BA is still available from some suppliers.
Many of us will remember the combined flight and shaft moulded plastic shafts. Made virtually unbreakable they were and in some cases, still are a feature of pub darts. This type of construction seems to be coming back in various forms of solid flight and indeed flight and shaft combo.
These Shaft / Flights, that can still be purchased, come in a rainbow of colours however with its fixed length, weight and flight shape means that this combo doesn’t meet many serious dart player’s needs. Enter modern technology with shafts / stems made from aluminium, steel, nylon, plastic and carbon fibre.
Using different length shafts and dart flights will change the way the dart flies. There isn’t a best shaft or flight to use as this is personal preference, but I will try to explain what happens when you use short shafts Vs long and also what happens when you use different flights.
As stated, there is no best shaft to use, if you are a watcher of darts and new to the game you will notice all darters will have their own preference in shaft length and type, plastic, metal & nylon.
When choosing a dart, it is best to try it first. As there are not many dedicated dart shops around it isn’t always possible to throw them in the store at a practise board. But if you know anyone that plays asked if they will allow you to have a throw of their darts, this way you are more likely to find a weight that suits you. Choosing a shaft and flight to go with the dart can be as equally as difficult as choosing a dart.
Short shafts tend to move the centre of gravity of the dart towards the front end of the barrel. For good throwing, most dart throwers hold their darts at this point so if you hold your darts at the front end of the barrel the short shafts might be best suited to your throw. Long shaft will effectively move the centre of gravity of the dart towards the back, so if you throw your darts holding them at the back of the dart a long shaft my suit you better than short shafts.
Although it was believed that the best darts were thrown in a smooth arc fashion to the board and with a naked eye that appears to be the case, recent slow-motion television coverage shows that darts actually wiggle in flight. I.e. they dip straighten and sometimes dip again before hitting the board. This is natural and everyone’s throw is different.
Shafts can be made from several different materials, if you use aluminium shafts it is always best to add a rubber washer to the threaded end to prevent the shaft from undoing while in use. Plastic shafts don’t require washers, but if you are playing on a floor with a hard surface beware, should you be unfortunate to have a bounce out hard surfaces can break shafts leaving the screwed end firmly in the barrel of the dart. Nylon shafts are less likely to break in this way.
Two top professional's worth viewing here is John Lowe and Phil Taylor, both of these players have won the world darts championship and both use totally different darts, shafts and flights
It seems we have come full circle with the re-emergence of the Shaft-Flight combo as seem above. This time the flight is more in keeping with the standard dart flight most of us tend to use. To see more about the development of the dart flight from earlier feathers and paper up to today’s vast array of sharps sizes and materials visit the dart flights page.