I have a new set of darts. Well, one month and nine days old, to be exact. And I never would have fixated on these set of darts, had I not become aware of this particular darts player. For one, it is not available locally, and second, it is quite expensive (at the time I was buying it—or from where I was buying it).
As I’ve said, I wouldn’t have noticed these dart pins if not for the darts player representing them. It started when my son and I were watching/following the 2023 Betfred World Matchplay. After the second round, I came across a news that said one darts player, after pulling of a shock win against Peter Wright, suddenly found himself in search of a hotel because he only booked from Friday the week before to Friday of the match week. Ryan Searle’s win against Wright earned him, unexpectedly, a place in the quarterfinals—and as such, a “nice” problem because of their accommodation. Of course, he was able to sort it out—perhaps they were allowed extension of their stay at their hotel at the time or was able to find one—because he was able to play in the quarterfinals. Sadly, he lost to Jonny Clayton (16-12).
But still, that hotel accommodation incident made me start to really look into the guy, the darts player, and find out more about him. For one, his astigmatism—he is said to often not see where his darts land, and has to ask the caller or ref. And then his really heavy pins (32g)—which earned him the monicker, “Heavy Metal” (also because of his image based on the “rock” genre of music).
But something that really resonated with me was, I think, his humility, which I think could only stem from his “knowing himself”. What I am writing here are just my opinion, OK? So don’t shoot me. But, as I was saying, I find that incident reflected humility, because, in a sense, he knows that the Matchplay tournament will pit the best of the best darts players worldwide. And I think he knows that, and he is humble enough, to admit that he might not be that great-of-a-darts-player YET to really be able to stay until the finals round. Which is why he only booked until Friday (after Round 2), thinking that he will be eliminated after that anyway. Which is, again, why it was a shock win against Peter Wright because, as we all know, he is one of the top players in the world.
It really stuck with me. That incident. Which made me an instant fan (I have been following him over these past tournaments since the Matchplay).
And made me look him up more, and of course, the set of darts he uses (from Loxley).
Here is the thing. I am comfortable throwing 24g and 25g darts in practice. I used to experiment with the shafts, but I found that I like the feel and balance of the intermediates (tweenies) with the standard-length barrel. Therefore, my set up goes as such.
However, when it comes to actual contests against other players—I am always very, very nervous whenever I am having a match, even in low-key MIMO events—such that I feel like my darts are flying miles and miles off my target. Maybe I just lack the practice; but it is funny because I am good while practicing. It’s just that my nervousness affects my throw. It’s like I know the amount of force needed for my darts during practice, but suddenly, because of nerves, I feel like the darts become too light that the force I apply becomes are too much, such that they are far, far away from my target.
Which is why I decided that I need heavier darts. Also, after analyzing my grip, I realized the barrel must be of a particular shape. I can no longer hold pencil-type or pencil-shaped darts properly. My barrel should have a gradual widening in terms of circumference starting from the middle part of the barrel to the front (or head) of it, and then there should only be as short an edge of it (the part where the point is being held/inserted in the barrel) as possible, because my middle finger rests on top of that sloping edge and the point when I am holding the dart.
After reading this review of Ryan Searle’s Gen 1 darts, and seeing its specs from the video review by Darts Review Channel Review (wow, I want to make those kinds of reviews in this site), my desire for the said darts just became stronger.
However, I am based here in the Philippines. And as such, there are no Loxley shops here, or even a distributor. And if there is one in Asia, the shipping costs are just too much. Luckily enough, my aunt (my mom’s sister) visited their sister in the United States. Seeing that Dartshopper delivers within 24 hours in the US, I had them order my darts set and delivered, to be brought back by my aunt after her three-month trip. (I was able to get ahold of my 26g Ryan Searle Gen 1 last October 1.)
But I need a set of heavier darts for the upcoming Darterong Pinoy 2023 event in Casino Filipino Tagaytay. (I played for Team 3 of Anabu Darts Club. Unfortunately, we lost in the first round. Well, points for experience!)
So, I visited Toby’s Sports in SM Southmall, and after almost an hour of checking each 26g darts and measuring the slope (sort of the hypotenuse) of the tip of the barrel to the part where it holds the point (the store clerk was kind enough to let me borrow their measuring tape), I decided on the Winmau Ton Machine 26g.
Compared to all the Winmau darts there at Toby’s, it was the closest possible to Loxley’s Ryan Searle Gen 1 26g in terms of the shape I was looking for (of course the weights are the same).
When I finally held the Ton Machine pins, indeed they are smooth to the touch (as advertised). But they were so smooth that I feel like they will slide out of my grip if I didn’t hold them properly. This made me realize that the feel of the grip the grooves in the barrel will make in your hands, or fingers, will play a crucial role when releasing the darts. Because with my problem earlier, when nerves start to affect my throw, and thereby leading to wayward darts, the smoothness of the Ton Machine’s barrels made it worse, such that, I am always grappling with the fact that the darts will slide out of my grip. (I guess this is also one of the key reasons why my throws during our Fixed 4-Man Team contest were very, very bad.)
Anyway, when my Loxley darts arrived, I was surprised, and was very, very happy, because the aggressive grip that the Ryan Searle Gen 1 darts provide happen to be the one that I was looking for. Of course, I switched to intermediate shafts, and I used a regular set of flights, because I only have one set of flights from the darts set that I bought. (I should have bought a few sets of flights!)
Oh well. Here’s a snapshot of my darts, and when I finally hit a 180.
I guess, I just want to say that I am very happy of the darts I have right now. And the fact that those traits that I saw in Ryan from that Matchplay event were what led me to the darts I am enjoying using right now. In fact, it is one of the reasons why I was finally able to be a placer in ADC’s recent Quarterly Event/Meet (doubles, with Sir Choy). Oh, that and Lady Luck.
I just hope I can also get a heavier version (still the Gen 1), perhaps 29g or 32g—if they are still available—as well as the Black Edition; and also the Ryan Searle Limited Edition 31g.
Oh well. Soon enough.