The movement in darts accessories towards various flight & stem systems has been steady but strong over the last decade or so. Many manufacturers have released a version of the fixed flight innovation. Others, such as Condor, have opted for a molded flight and integral stem.
The result is the AXE series of flight and stem combinations. There also seems to be a new enthusiasm for these products amongst the very best 'up and coming' players across the darts world.
The 'Team Trinidad' twosome, Devon Petersen and Jose de Sousa, have had a remarkable 2020, but their improvement has been more than a sudden upswing. Jose has been been making impressive, but steady, progress for a couple of years now and The African Warrior has undergone a self-described transformation. Both players use a fully molded personalised combination of Trinidad barrels and Condor AXE accessories.
A flight and stem combination made in a molded style that retains its shape, at the 90-degree angle, improves the consistency of the flight of the dart and thus the repetition of similar action and may increase a player's performance?
Would reduced or eliminated collisions and deviations also. In addition, the integration of the stem and flight prevent flights from detaching themselves or coming loose and may reduce distraction to a player's rhythm or vision.
The flexibility within the stem and flight ensures that the incoming dart has a greater chance of finding its way through any slight deflection due to the lie of the previous dart/s. This seems beneficial at almost all levels and in every format, whether soft or steel tip. Even quicker players will benefit from this innovation.
Traditional two-piece systems (molded or not) often suffer from stem breakage and flight damage including from various types of 'Robin Hood' collisions. AXE virtually eliminates stem breakage due to the integration and smooth tapering that offers no target to the incoming dart. Although flight damage is never totally avoidable it is also reduced.
Both Jose and Devon demonstrate that AXE flight and stems combinations can be used at the elite level within the steel tip game and it may well be that we see more 'open-minded' professionals trialing such equipment in the future.
Our testers at A.I.M: identified and tested four major areas: performance, shape retention, durability, and flexibility. They then continued to long term testing. The results offered both surprises and confirmation of initial tests:
1) Fixed Flight systems can improve players. Methodical, process players and stackers gain significantly, quick wristed players will also benefit.
2) Identifying the relevant personal elements including weight and shape, is vitally important. Patient trial and error is the key.
3) Consistency is the biggest benefit, all tests showed that although players average may increase, the reliability of their standard increased more.
4) Moulded flight systems such as AXE can substantially improve players' performance. If the right combinations of shape, weight, surface area, and other elements are present. A wider group can benefit from these systems. Both consistency and performance can be improved.
5) Lighter & less aggressive gripped darts maximize this improvement. Fewer deflections were noted and more precision throwing was rewarded.
6) The better the player the more likely the benefit. Newer players can expect too much from the investment and science.
7) The psychological factors, such as increased confidence in the system, are difficult to assess and should not be underestimated.
A.I.M: concluded that molded or fixed flight systems such as AXE can indeed provide an improvement for those willing to experiment and persevere. The greatest benefit is for the more methodical/precision player who uses low to mid-weight (22g or less) dart. As more players use such equipment and the culture changes, more young players will be influenced and such innovation will become ingrained.
Darts World will be looking closely at these two players and their performance over the coming weeks look out for more on our social media and here at dartsworld.com.