Let me say up front that I enjoy making and throwing primitive darts made from traditional materials such as cane, willow, giant ragweed, Mullen, iron weed, and Jerusalem artichoke. Throwing darts long distance just to watch them majestically arcing through the sky is very satisfying. The current Guinness world record for a hand thrown object is almost 300 yards. This incredible feat was achieved using a modern atlatl and dart.
Long distance throwing has two goals, greatest distance traveled and tightest group (if more than one dart is being used). Throwing long distance really brings out the obvious reality that no two darts are alike. Some darts fly much further while others take on a life of their own, gliding or diving off to a side.
In an attempt to duplicate the performance of my best flying (natural) darts, I became involved in experimenting with synthetic dart materials and eventually to produce many darts, with identical weight, length, and spine(flex). It came as no surprise that synthetic darts consistently produced much tighter groups at long range. My best 3 dart group to date would fit inside a hula hoop from 70 meters!
Next, synthetic darts were used to experiment with location of balance point in an attempt to make a dart fly farther or buck a cross wind better. Preliminary finding suggest that less weight up front requires an increase in fletching surface area at the tail end. This light, big fletch dart will fly faster at first but will not fly as far because of drag from the large fletch. Reducing the fletch size tends to make the dart less stable in flight. Stability can be regained by increasing the weight at the point end. If enough weight is added to the point to make the dart balance on your finger at about 30% of its length, then no fletch is necessary, for the ultimate wind bucking dart.
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