What One Season of Darts Has Taught Me

 
My first season of darts is over and I see a need to reflect on it.  There were highs and lows, and some genuinely warm moments.  I decided to play darts in February after watching it on TV.  I joined two leagues and three months later, my latest obsession is still going strong.

Apparently there are two seasons of darts.  Fall through spring, and summer.  As you might guess, the summer season is only about half as long as the other season.  I guess lots of people go on holiday in the summer, so I don’t expect the shortened season to be as serious, or as well attended.

What I have learned:

Ø      Darts, like many other activities, gets better with practice.  In the past few weeks my three dart average has increased, and my ability to hit doubles and triples has gotten better.

Ø      Competition makes you better.  Despite not being that competitive, wanting to win makes me a better player.  Unlike some, I don’t get down on other players, and try not to let my performance get to me.

Ø      With any activity there is a whole new lexicon to learn.  Without knowing it, I have added a lot of dart related words to my vocabulary, much to the chagrin of my coworkers.  Of course, they use a lot of ESL related vocabulary that other people in their lives don’t understand….so it’s pretty much a wash.  I throw around words and phrases like treble, three in a bed, checkout, double out, oche, flights, sisal, double bull, 9-darter and so many others. 

Ø      Leagues only work because so many people put in a lot of work.  Casual or not, a lot of organization and stats keeping is needed to keep the league going.  It seems like a lot of the people who I play with are retired, but it still requires a lot of their time.  Thanks.

Ø      The temptation to buy lots of equipment exists whenever you start a new hobby or pastime.  Fortunately, I have resisted the urge to spend a lot of money.  I’ve got some darts, a board at home, a small case for the darts, and a few extra parts.  Most people I have seen have several sets of darts, a rather large executive case, a large number of spare parts, and various tools.  Knowing me the way I do, I am sure I will get there, but for now, I am keeping it simple.

Ø      There are a variety of people and people types involved.  While most of my experiences have been good, some have been bad, and I have to accept that clashes will happen in the future.  Hopefully calm heads and rational thinking will prevail.

Ø      There is a huge world of darts out there.  There are professional leagues and huge tournaments.  I have only encountered the tip of the iceberg.  I may or may not make that big jump in the next year. While being a professional anything appeals to me, I know there are drawbacks to taking something you enjoy to a level like that.  Friendly competition is good, but intense competition may not be so great.

I have enjoyed darts, and I will be playing summer darts.  I will let you know how that goes.

Practice…is always needed

Coming to grips with your limitations is tough on a hobbyist.  I would like to think that I could enter any hobby and pretty quickly pick up the skills needed to be at least competent. Of course, I would love to be fabulous right out of the gate, but I know that everything has a learning curve.  Some curves are gentle and others are wickedly steep.

When it comes to building models, the easy curves are the assembling, gap filling and learning how to use glue sparingly.  The hard curves are painting and decal application. 

When it comes to train layouts, wiring and maintenance are the hard curves, while collecting trains is so easy that everyone usually overdoes it–okay, not everyone, just me.

When it comes to remote control cars, building the cars is relatively easy.  The instructions are usually clear, and the body paints up quite easily–though some people need to give their heads a shake when they think of colour combinations.  Driving the car well enough to avoid collisions and maybe win a heat or two is the difficult part.

All hobbies have learning curves.  Everything requires a lot of practice.  As I type this I can hear the voices of all my teachers and mentors echoing the same words.  The worse part is, as I am sure you will agree, that it is easy to ignore them, hope for the best, and hopefully not destroy something you’ve been working on out of frustration.  No matter what someone says, the most important lessons are the hardest to learn.

Pong
 
This blog came about because I was playing a first person shooter video game on Friday.  In a nutshell, I sucked.  I sucked bad.  I come from an era of top down, two dimensional video games with minimal stories, minimal controls.  Today’s controllers have as many buttons as my keyboard and require a lot of precise control.  There is way more to keep track of and so much happens in the blink of an eye.  We’ve come a long way from pong.

I could beat myself up about this, but I won’t.  I know that everything takes time.  I am sure that with more practice I could become better at this.  I won’t be great, but I won’t embarrass myself….again

 

Two Dreams Unrealized

Get ready to be shocked.  There are two things that I am passively working on.  I say passively because I really want to be able to do them, but am not sure I ever will.  Probably if I put in a large amount of effort or work I could probably gain a respectable amount of skill, but somehow I am not sure that is going to happen.

I want to learn how to juggle and I want to learn how to do yoyo tricks.

I know, not really a spectacular ambition.  Other people are getting their MBA’s  and PhD’s and I want to be a party entertainer.  When I put it like that, it does sound pathetic. really pathetic.  I might as well learn how to make balloon animals. (see tomorrow’s blog–just kidding)

I don’t think it is really about entertaining.  I really can’t imagine performing in front of people.  Don’t get me wrong, once I get over the stage fright, I can perform in front of people.  It is a weird thing, but I can stand up in front of a crowd of strangers and make them laugh easier than I can ask questions to the clerk in a hobby shop.

Rather than be an entertainer, I just want the skill to be able to do those things.  The juggling came from a Japanese TV show called TV Champion.  It is a wonderful show that can make an interesting contest out of anything (juggling, making ramen, building Lego, making models, redecorating, and painting to name a few)  They had a great juggling contest and I was hooked.  Of course, my high school girlfriend was also a professional clown and could juggle–and ride a unicycle–so maybe that was part of it.

The yoyo came from watching my brother do amazing things with the yoyo. and then watching very young people on YouTube do impossible things.

I bought the yoyo and can do some very basic tricks with it (okay, one trick.  Thanks to the ball bearings, I can make it sleep for an incredibly long time)  I got the juggling balls for Christmas and have never managed more than a few revolutions before they come crashing to the ground and I have to gather them up again.  The instruction booklet recommended practicing over a table to make it easier to round up the balls.  It would be good advice if they didn’t roll off the table.

Not having mastered either of these skills I have considered giving these things away in my annual donate to family ritual, but have never managed to do it.  Even now, hunting for the yoyo to take the picture, I was worried that I had given it away.  Like most things, I think someday I will do it.  I just wish I knew when that someday would come.