Numbers Of Hours Practice-60
Average Number Of Darts To Checkout-37.28Miles Walked On The Oche-51 miles
Now, you may be reading that last line and thinking, 'Hang on, 51 miles? That's a long way! But still 10 times less than The Proclamers would walk!...plus 1 mile. Where are you getting these figures from Luke?' Well, my darting chums, I'll tell you.
On thursday I bought a pedometer, and did a typical hour's practice. At the end of the hour I wrote down the number of steps I'd taken during practice, the obviously got on with the other 3 hours of hardcore darting action. Later, at home, I measured my typical step length, and did the maths; I walk 0.85 miles back and forth on the oche every hour. 60 hours practice therefore equals roughly 51 miles.
Now, that sounds like a lot, but think about it. The average human walking pace is 3-4 miles an hour. Now, that's the speed I'll be walking to the board and back, but I'm stopping every ten seconds to throw darts, so the distance I cover in an hour would be about a third of what it would be normally, which would be 180-240 miles. So all of a sudden, 51 miles sounds about right, doesn't it? You could say people walk all over the place in a day, but, I'm doing that plus the extra walking, which in a 4 hour practice day is about 3.4 miles. That's a lot of walking, and that would explain-laugh all you like-why I've lost weight since I started playing darts. (Although that 8 pint experiment day probably wasn't a contributing factor to that.) Either way, though it's obviously absolutely NO kind of cardiovascular exercise, as long as you're not sinking pint after pint, you ARE getting more walking done than most. Hell, the game involves standing, walking, throwing, and a high level of hand to eye co-ordination. Anyone that says it isn't a sport (even though it's recognised officially as such by all four governing sports bodies of the UK, making it OFFICIALLY a sport) legitimately is an idiot or opening their mouth without looking at the facts. What REALLY winds me up is when you say 'well, it's a sport because X, Y, and Z, so why ISN'T it a sport?' And the best they can come back with is 'Well...it just isn't.' You'll have to better than that, twats.
Anyway. The darts, eh? Just look at that checkout average. Just look at it. Take a moment to absorb it. That 13 DARTS shaved off my checkout average in just 31 days (practice only started on day 7.) That's pretty good going in my book.
But anyway. You want to know how the rematch went after the beating that threw my game temporarily into chaos. Chris and Craigy, the Paul and Barry Chuckle of the West Midlands darts scene. Nah, that's disrespectful, but if you read the previous blog you know full well the psychological damage they inflicted on my good self and my game, making my hours of practice all seem for nought.
This week, Briggsy came along too after following this very blog and eager for his pound of flesh too. Briggsy is no slouch in the darts department, and I would say that on his day he is a better player than the other two, so I was interested to see how this would go. Having been through the psychological doldrums and out again, and back to a higher level ala Rocky 3, I felt relaxed and even excited.
Me and Chris started before the other two got there, and I checked in straight away. I raced away, throwing big darts, and got to a finish well ahead of chris; 83.
Now, a better player would have automatically have gone for treble 17 (51) then the professional's favourite, double 16. But hitting those trebles on demand is extremely difficult, and I had a point to prove; I HAD to be the winner this week. But as I said to Chris at the time, this is practice, and you've got to go for it...and I HAD been hitting the odd treble in practice (other than treble 20, obviously, they're fairly common now) So I went for it. I missed it, cleaned the odd numbers up, got to a finish, and was stuck there for about 18 darts whilst Chris slowly caught up and checked out cleanly. One down. (There's a reason for going into this detail, you'll see why shortly.)
However, the previous week had taken all the toll it could, and I was able to shrug it off, and in the next game, funnily enough, I had 83 again, with three darts to do it. Again, Chris and I looked at each other, shrugged, and I went for it; I hit the treble! Two darts at double 16 and the finish was wrapped up, a great checkout, and beautifully, I did all of this just as Craigy and Briggsy
walked in. It couldn't have been sweeter.
After that, they couldn't get me off the board. I was checking in-and out-with my first dart pretty much every time. I was on fire. Chris was champing at the bit to get back on the oche and have more chances at revenge, but with four of us up there it took longer to get back to the board. When he did get on the oche, I think he had a dose of what I'd had last week. His head was shot, to the point where, in one game, he got that frustrated at his continued inability to check in, he missed with his first two darts and just randomly threw his dart into the board in a rage. I didn't feel any smugness. I could relate. The score at the was Luke 7, every other motherfucker 1. That 1 being Chris' win. The other two didn't get a look in. The call to my girlfriend afterwards was obviously giddy. Vindicated, I was. Vindicated.
Anyway, obviously practice on Monday started with a bang, and I was pleased to realise that I'm now going Round The Clock Doubles in the about the same time it took me to go Round The Clock singles. But the REAL story was on Tuesday.
As I was in Coventry to take my turn running the Whitefriars tuesday night pub quiz, I got my practice in on the excellent darting set up they have at The Chestnut Tree in Chapelfields (they have a buy-4-pints-get-a-fifth-free-stamp-your-loyalty-card system going. Good idea) and towards the end of the third hour I noticed two 40 something chaps come in carrying darts cases. One of them being a particularly large gentleman.
I actually recognised him; about a year ago I was drinking in there with a friend, and their pub darts team were in there practicing. He'd been the team captain.
My first thought was (knowing the Chapelfields league is on a wednesday; we used to be in it, in my first brief run around with darts) it must be a team practice night, and therefore they're not going to want a stranger taking up darting time on their board that could be used by their players.
But then I stopped. Every day when I practice I wish someone would come and say 'Fancy a game, mate?' just to have some competitive practice. Here was a golden opportunity to not only get that, but to play someone who I knew was of a good standard. Someone who a month ago I knew would have beaten me. I really didn't want to, feeling very awkward, but I could see they were thinking 'We've come to play darts, and this guy-handsome as he is-is taking up the board,' but not being rude enough to claim their turf. So I nodded nervously at their cases and said 'Fancy a game?'
They accepted immediately, and whilst they threw some warm-up arrows, I frantically bought a pint and began to chug it. No nerves. No nerves.
They introduced themselves as Jay and Andy, and I played Jay, the former team captain (their team doesn't play anymore, but according to the landlord, he and Andy were in there most nights.)
He threw big darts. So did I. I beat him.
I was over the moon. I didn't really know what to do though; I wanted to be respectful on his turf, so I held my hand out for the traditional shake. He'd already turned his back to get his pint, however, and I was left standing there with my hand out. Just when I thought 'Shit...is this stupid?' he turned around and saw my hand, and there was an awkward pause. Then he said 'Nah, nah, we don't shake hands yet, there's loads more,' and I felt, frankly, like a penis. I just hadn't wanted to seem cocky in victory, like I was brushing him aside once I was done.
As we threw for bull to see who throws first, like an idiot I tried again. 'In all fairness, I'd had a lot more of a warm up than you.' It was meant to be magnanimous, to be gracious in victory, but it just came out wrong. It sounded like I was patronising him. Again there was a bit of a silent pause from Jay whilst he faced the board, and eventually responded with 'Well, it's a funny game, isn't it.'
Was he pissed off? Was he saying it's a funny game because he'd lost?
We played again whilst we waited for Andy, and Jay won this time, after I'd struggled to check in and raced back with big scores, but not fast enough. I scored Jay and Andy's game (surprisingly nervously; I was concerned about getting it wrong, even though I can score effortlessly now.)
I beat Andy (a good player, but on the day worse than Jay) and as I realised Andy was an extremely friendly and affable guy, I realised I nothing to worry about with Jay either. I should have just shut my mouth and got on with it, and the atmosphere was very pleasant, Jay and Andy taking a fag break and asking if I wanted one etc. I told them I found smoking offensive and I liked my lungs exactly the way they are, thankyou very much. Of course I didn't.
Either way, I beat Jay on the return leg, and by the end of the session, the scores were 6 to me, 2 to Jay, and 1 to Andy (not including the scores they took off each other; they are purely the scores between me versus each of them.)
I was absolutely elated. Genuinely overjoyed, for here was progress, and big progress at that. I'd convincingly beaten two guys who I wouldn't have been able to beat a month ago. This was pub league standard, and I was now one of the guys in a pub league that people would have been nervous about playing. I had-have-taken the first step on the ladder. Definitely, definitely, a Big Cock Day. Again, the phone call to the other half was breathless. And I was happy about the darts too, ba-bum tish. And God bless her, she was chuffed to bits for me. And I realised something else; this is not a fad. I'm going all the way. Because the interest isn't waning, isn't fading, it's getting bigger. I love playing darts. And I sincerely hope that you, dear reader, stick with me to the finish.
I've a story to tell about how I've worked out my route into the Professional Darts Corporation, but I've written enough for today, and that's a long one, including my feelings about each of the rival organisations, the PDC and the BDO (British Darts Organisation) and why I'm a PDC man all the way. Phil Taylor is shitting himself.
But I've got to get to practice.
Thanks for reading, and Stay Hungry.
The Straight Shooter.