Dart stems are probably even more important than flights in that, if you choose the wrong ones or one gets damaged or bent, then you are surely going to have problems.
Damaged stems can result in flights falling off in flight, not being able to fit flights in the slots on the stems or worse still, bending of the stem so that your darts swerve away from their target.
Dart stems can be made of a variety of materials including aluminium (that’s aluminum to you Americans), nylon, plastic, titanium, brass and Flexible Polycarbonate.
They also come in a variety of combinations such as aluminium and plastic for example. I could honestly write a book on the various types available and their good features and bad, but I won’t. I’ll try to keep it simple instead.
I think that this is yet another exciting dimension to darts equipment that makes the game fun. “Experiment as much as you can,” is what I will always recommend to begin with and then stick with the length that suits you best.
If you don’t mind spending money on trying new stems then go for it, because it is fun experimenting, but I would advise that you firstly narrow down to which length is best for you and then to stick close to that length at least. This helps with consistency.
I have my own preferences when it comes to dart stems but I couldn’t honestly say that I have tried every single type out there. I will however buy various types from time to time so that I can share my experiences with you. I have tried quite a few types though, so I can share those experiences now.
Firstly the plastic darts stems (not to be confused with nylon). When I first started playing in competition darts I bought these by the half dozen and that’s around about how many I broke every week too. When you hit them on the end they broke clean off every time and sometimes two pieces would break off at a time. I wouldn’t bother using them again even if they were free!
I have used aluminium dart stems on several occasions and didn’t mind them too much because at times the length that I was after only came in aluminium. I stopped though for a few reasons. When you take the flights out and put them back in between sessions the flights tend to either split or become frayed so that they won’t go back in. Not too much of a problem if you leave them on though.
When you hit the end of aluminium stems they usually bend instead of breaking. Now in the beginning I thought that this was great, until I realised that I could never bend them back to the original place.
If this happens to yours try rolling them on the end of a table and see if the flights wobble because this is where the problem mainly lies with aluminium.
If you use a darts wallet and carry your darts in your back pocket you will also need to do the roll check every time before you play. As I said earlier, I used the aluminium darts stems because of the length.
At one stage I used the “Tom Thumbs,” variety. As the name suggests they are very short. I hit these on the end on several occasions and they seemed to come through unscathed.
That was until I put my darts down one day and saw them roll on the edge of the table! The shafts had bent when I hit them on the end by becoming compressed on one side. I was shocked and dissappointed and gave up on them from that point.
The type that I have liked the most so far and use to this day is the nylon stems with springs. They survive nearly every hit without breaking or bending, are cheap, you can buy new springs seperately which helps to keep the price down and they help to keep the flights on. The one problem with them though is the springs. When they come off during a throw they are very hard to find!
© Chris Elsby November 2008 All Rights Reserved.