The flight is the part of your dart that stabilizes it in flight by creating drag. Rubber stemmed darts typically use flights that are open on both ends. Their shape has evolved over time to better stabilize your dart in flight. Other types of flights have also evolved for different playing styles.
Standard Flights / Shapes
Standard flights come in a variety of shapes, some are long triangles and others are shorter with cutouts on the back end. These standard flights are referred to as “standard” because they are more or less the industry standard that have evolved out of years of trial and error.
There are two primary shapes, Standard and Harrow. The Standard shape is by far the most popular style, it’s stable in flight but tends to lose its stability over long distances compared to Harrow. A Harrow flight on the other hand will continue in a straighter path over longer distances but is less stable in high-speed flight. The standard shape has an optimal speed for use, and there are times where a Harrow might be useful.
Standard Flight Shape Testing
I’ve done some extensive testing with different flights and speeds with the goal of figuring out what is best and why. The tests were simple, I threw darts at a target from varying distances and speeds to see how straight and true they flew and also what shape held its path the best. My conclusion is that at their optimal speed, Harrow flights fly straighter than standard flights.
Standard or Slim Dart Flights?
Slim dart flights are typically the next step down from standard flights. They have thinner parabolic-shaped fronts and back sections, they still have a cutout on the back section but it is much smaller than that of a standard flight. Slim flights tend to stay true in-flight longer at increased speeds due to their reduced size.
Larger flights are better for high-speed and/or long-distance flights where a dart has to maintain its stability in the air for an extended period of time. Smaller flights are better when you need accuracy from shorter distances. The choice is yours, it just depends on what type of darts you’re playing with and what your individual play style dictates. That said, slim flights offer an advantage in accuracy over heavier flights at the same speed.
How often do I need to replace dart flights?
Depending on how frequently you play darts, your flights will start to warp over time because they’re constantly being thrown or catching wind during flight. No matter what, your flights will eventually warp, split or come apart at the seams. Replacing flights every other month is usually sufficient to maintain your desired flight profile throughout the year.
How do you put a flight on a dart?
Simply push the exposed metal shaft into the front of the flight. The silicone will expand and hold it in place, no glue or tape is required.
How do you remove a dart flight?
You typically insert your fingernail, paperclip or small screwdriver behind one of the edges to release its grip on the shaft. If you have problems with your flights becoming loose, using rubber cement to glue them back in place is an acceptable solution that has worked for me many times.
General Flight Maintenance
Wash regular flights with soap and water or cleaners specifically made for silicone products. Do not use hot water on the flight as it will deform the shape of the silicone flight.
Do not leave flights in direct sunlight for extended periods of time or they will warp and become less stable in flight.
Professional Dart Flights
These flights are typically heavier than standard or slim flights and designed for professional players that play competitively. The Professional Dart Flight Association (PDF) has their own set of characteristics that apply to the various divisions within their association.
Bristle dart flights are also specifically made for darts used in pub/bar games, they have large amounts of bristle or nylon material that protects the flights from damage caused by hitting other darts.
Metal Dart Flights
Plastic dart flights are not nearly as popular or common anymore, they were made in an effort to cut down on the price of darts. They’re dead-simple to make, not very durable and do not fly well due to their flexible nature.
Imitation Flight Shapes
There are all kinds of shapes on the market, some are more common than others:
Fish flights can spread out during flight to reduce drag and increase stability at higher speeds or when throwing with a lot of power. They’re not very popular anymore because they tend to cause blisters in your hand from catching them on the back of your fingers during release.
These flights look like little round discs and are very popular in the UK where they originated. They offer a wide profile for catching air, preventing the dart from drifting off-course before it reaches its target.
A parabolic flight is essentially two fish-shaped sections connected by a thin section somewhere near the back of the flight. They fly very straight at higher speeds because they have a wide profile and offer just slightly less stability than fish flights.
There are two types of parabolic flights, one that is cut out along its entire length or nearly all the way through and another that is cut out only on the outer circumference, but not all the way through. Cut-out flights are typically more stable by design because less material is present to catch wind during flight.
The size of your dart flights is directly related to how fast you throw. Throwing with a lot of power requires larger flights to maintain stability in-flight for an extended period of time, this allows you to achieve more distance.
Flights come in two main parts, the stem (the part that attaches to the dart) and the blades (the actual flight). Smaller flights have smaller stems with larger blades, which can make catching them on your fingers slightly less painful. Larger flights typically don’t cause any problems for regular players, but they can be more difficult to put on dart shafts because of their weight.
Getting that perfect flight profile is subjective and different for everyone. Some people like the way slim profiles feel in their hands while others may prefer round flights. Experiment with various shapes until you find one that feels most comfortable when throwing at an optimal speed.
How do you use flight protectors for darts?
Flight protectors can help you to maintain the shape of your flight for a longer period. They are typically made from plastic or metallic materials and have slits cut out so they can snap onto dart flights. Flight protectors are invaluable if you store darts in a case, simply place them on your flight before sliding them into the case. It could also prevent your flights from becoming misshapen after many uses.
How to put on dart flight protectors?
If you’re the kind of person that likes to remove their flights when throwing, you can place them in a case or bag for storage. Flight protectors are useful when storing darts with your flights still attached because they keep the shape intact.
To install flight protectors, simply pinch the two ends together and slip them over your dart’s flight. If you want to remove the flight protector, pinch it at both ends and slide it off in any direction.
What should I look for when buying dart flights?
When shopping for dart flights you should look for something that feels comfortable in your hand and doesn’t cause blisters. Experiment with various shapes until you find one that feels good, then go with that one. You should also choose something that matches your dart barrels to maintain a cohesive aesthetic.
What you want at the end is an understanding of what you need and want, then see how that flight does in the areas that matter most to you. Ultimately it’s not just about speed or stability, but a combination of factors like how well it holds its path, durability and ease of use.
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