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An Interview With American Darts Master and Mentor George Silberzahn
Darts: Getting as Good as Can Be
Darts is one of the most popular and most enjoyable pastimes, hobbies or passions on the planet. There is no denying that it can be more than just a little addictive, combining a great time with friends and a chance to make new ones with a game that is incredibly challenging, and yet allows people of all skill levels to participate and enjoy themselves.
I myself got roped into playing darts by a group of friends who invited me to play in their dart league. Sadly I could not join the league at the time due to my work schedule, but I quickly set about playing every chance I got, often practicing alone, all in the hopes of getting a chance to join the team and to (hopefully) not embarrass myself. As much as I very quickly fell in love with the game, I must admit that darts is not the sort of thing that I am naturally talented at.
So I decided that I wanted to see just how good I can be and set about looking for advice and instruction and every 'how to' website on the internet. I found a lot of advice, a lot of it repetitions some of it even contradictory, but I did my best to sort through it, learn from it and try to apply it to my improving, but still very shaky game.
One of the things I came across was a site called 'How to Darts'which offered a 'Flight School' for dart players to learn and improve while gaining instruction and advice from a professional American dart player with a rich career named George Silberzahn.
I was excited by the notion, but also a little skeptical and so at first I left it alone. I came across this 'Flight School' again in the Darts Nutz dart forum which I like to frequent. There they gave George Silberzahn and his 'Flight School' darts training a glowing review. Finally convinced I decided to jump in and take the plunge!
What a great choice that was! In a relatively short time I have gone from hoping to be good enough to play with my friends to being among the best of them, and getting better. How far 'getting better' will take me, I cant really say. I just feel confident that I am on the right path to getting there.
I suspect that there may be others out there, who like me have gotten hooked on darts but just wish they could be a little better at it, good at it even! So I have written this article so more people can find their way to becoming 'as good as can be' at darts.
George has also very graciously agreed to an interview, which is posted below in which he discusses darts, his career flight school and more. I hope you enjoy it, and if you have a love for darts and a hunger to improve I strongly suggest you check out Flight School.
Enjoy the interview!
1. I have been your student for a short while now and have already seen results. My wife has just joined up as well.
So far the cost for both of us has been 0 dollars. Just how many students do you have and why put all this time in to help all of us get better at darts?
There are over eight hundred Flight Schoolers in over twenty countries and enrollment is growing every day.
I spend from one to four hours a day answering questions and making suggestions and I consider this a ‘get to’ rather than a ‘have to’ do thing.
I do this due to a character flaw, I guess. ;-) It began when I switched from the American style to the English style of darts and discovered the need for knowing out shots and Cricket strategy – not needed in the American style. I was one of the originators, and President, of our first English darts league in New Jersey and wrote an out shot chart for the league members.
Soon after, I discovered that no one had a practice regimen which would let them learn control over the flight path of their darts well enough, to play the game well enough, to really maximize their enjoyment of the game, and wrote a booklet for the South Jersey English Dart Association members with tips on how I was practicing.
Our original league roster had 36 members and of those, five eventually won National titles. That success prompted me to think that what I was suggesting worked. Over the next forty or so years that booklet turned into Flight School and DARTS: Beginning to End (B2E).
The rewards of feedback from Flight Schoolers, telling me how their enjoyment of the game has increase as a result of my suggestions puts a broad smile on my face nearly every day as I read emails from them. This is the stimulant that keeps me going.
For me, and I maintain for everyone, Darts has never been about the money, it has always been about the enjoyment: Enjoyment from either winning or just taking part, depending on the person, and that is why I charge so much for Flight School: $0.00, ;-). Even for the very few who are able to make a living from it, money is really just a way to keep score of who is doing the winning.
B2E gives me an opportunity to “spread the word” to many more people through a different means.
2. Could you maybe give everyone a brief description of what Flight School is, what it's all about and where people can find it, who it is meant for and that sort of thing?
To steal from a real author: therein lies the rub; how to describe what I do. It covers every aspect of the game and is so broad, wide and deep that I have been unable to explain what it is in a short enough burst of words to get it across to the listener/ reader before their attention span comes to a halt.
At lunch with a friend of mine for all these many years, Ray Fisher, himself a distinguished champion, I remarked “You know, Ray, B2E could only have been written by you or me because you have to have lived a darts life time in order to do it.” I realize, as I now read what I just wrote, that sounds arrogant considering the worldwide scope of the game. But, considering the other books on Darts I know, and the feedback I get, no it is not arrogant; it is more a statement of fact.
I know you asked for ‘brief’ but this, below, is as close as I can get.
Find Flight School on www.howtodarts.com
Flight School is an on-line (email) tutorial.
It is designed to help everyone interested in the game of darts to derive more enjoyment from Darts, while devoting only the time and effort of their choosing.
Flight School is useful to those with a recreational level of interest and to those with professional aspirations.
Flight School is a program that allows a person to grow their game from the basics up to world class level if they wish.
Flight School enrollees receive help with organizing their efforts to become as good as they wish to be. They are supplied with methods and techniques proven to work.
This help begins with identification of specific things which the person may wish to improve and specific things about which they wish to know more, and then continues in their own solitary practice with Flight School drills which have been shown to work through practical use and continuing dialog on whatever the enrollee discovers a need to deal with.
Flight School practice regimens have a proven track record with hundreds of current Flight Schoolers, worldwide.
An alternative to Flight School on-line is a book: “DARTS Beginning to End” which contains all the things for do-it-yourself Flight School. Support may only be needed for a bit of advice and is available through on-line enrollment in Flight School.
Flight school is not just for beginners! There is a routine that will challenge the most accomplished player so don't think it’s just for the beginner or intermediate player.
3. In the 1970's you were among the top 10 American players. Have you seen or do you think you will see any of your flight school students reach that caliber who weren't playing that level prior to starting Flight School?
Oh, heavens yes. There are already many top ranked players who are Flight Schoolers, though mostly in North America. An odd thing though. When a person improves their game to a great extent they ‘own’ that improvement and hold it close. The tools they used are only mentioned when asked, and even then not always.
4. Regardless of actual level of achievement do you have a Flight Schooler who you feel a little more pride in their progress than others? What was there story?
There are so many who are enjoying their game more that I can’t possibly single out one. Some, who are closest, are ones who have used the “Stroke 911” regimen (that’s the emergency room ‘stuff’) to regain their footing. Darts becomes so much a part of some people’s sense of self-worth that loss of skill level devastates them. My experience with this most ugly phenomenon allowed me to put “Stroke 911” together.
5. Phil Taylor says he isn't a fan of so much beer at events. What's your take?
Darts is a pub/ tavern/ bar room game. That’s where it came from and that is where it thrives. Efforts to take it away from its roots haven’t worked out so well – yet. Soft tip is making a run at that, but so far the jury is still out.
Enjoying ‘a tasty adult beverage’ while enjoying the game still goes hand in hand although learning what moderation means soon becomes known to ‘serious’ players.
6. and speaking of events, should darts be an Olympic sport, and does darts even WANT or need to be an Olympic sport?
Back to the roots of the game: Frequenting Bars/ Pubs/ Taverns currently carries a stigma by ‘polite society’ which has its effect on which games are viewed as acceptable. In America, the people zealous about reducing and eliminating consumption of alcoholic drinks have found like hearts with those concerned with injury and death that comes from driving while under the influence (DUI). All this combines so that I don’t believe Darts will be able get beyond the popular/ political/ social class negative view.
There seems to be a group of games which can’t break that barrier in America: pool (snooker), bowling and even basketball to an extent are looked down on which contributes to the axiom: the smaller the ball the more acceptable the game.
All this makes me believe that Darts will never be an Olympic sport.
7. If there is one thing you could do to improve the game of darts what would it be?
Unify soft tip business with Steel tip tradition.
8. Over the years has the quality of darts gotten better or worse?
Oh, this is a no brainer. Like everything else it has gotten much better. Just look at the way skill is measured – points per dart/ darts per game. It wasn’t all that long ago this measure didn’t even exist!!
9. I started my league play just this past summer, and it was very much a mixed league talent wise. I ended up playing against a pretty good shooter named Bill Nielson, who had actually played against Collin Lloyd Needless to say I got soundly thrashed, but Bill was good about it and I enjoyed the experience. Afterwards with my team mates I announced that I was going to play Bill again and that I would be able to beat him.
Not that I had a burr in my saddle over the game, it was just a goal I wanted for myself. My team mates gave a response of 'never in a million years'? What do you think? I know it is impossible to tell what someone's upper limits are, but between gaining a little more playing experience and sticking with my Flight School drills and working on my stroke, is it possible? How far is flight school designed to take me realistically?
Flight School is a complete group of tools which you can use to become ‘as good as can be or wish to be.’ You are limited only by your natural, intuitive ability and determination.
I like to think in terms of milestones rather than goals. Goals infer an end has been reached and tend to encourage competing with your self – not good stuff. Bill Nielson may only be a stop on your way to where ever you go ;-)
Having played against someone of note is not a significant measure of your ability, how well you played is. I have never enjoyed losing to someone unless I forced that person to use every last one of their darts. And enjoy is still not a word I use to describe how I feel.
10. Anything else you would like to share or tell my readers about?
Enjoy the experience!
Darts: Beginning To End
I hope this interview and article has given you a little more insight to George, his career and what he is offering with his flight school.
You may also have noticed when visiting the 'How to Darts' page that George has a book. Rest assured that Flight School is in fact free and George does zero pestering to get you to buy his book.
I suspect though, that there are many like me who have got the book because they wanted to learn even more and as a thank you to George for the help he has given us.
The book is called 'Dart Beginning to End' and while you don't need it for Flight School I still think it s a good read, informative and worth your while.
As I said, once you are a Flight Schooler and for a while I think you might simply want to get the book.
Good luck with your darts and with getting to be 'as good as can be'.