Shot Darts – Global Leader in Innovation
I was lucky enough to meet with Shot Darts owner and Managing Director, Peter McCormick at Shot’s factory based in Katikati, a small town located about 35kms north-west of Tauranga, just a 2 ½ hour drive from Auckland based on the eastern side of the North Island here in New Zealand.
“There’s no-one doing what we do, at all. It’s a little bit different” explains Peter as he discusses the darts that are manufactured on the factory floor just downstairs from us.
Shot’s factory has many machines on the floor with each having the capability of making up to 120 sets of darts a day. So, Shot has plenty of capacity to pump out hundreds of sets of darts a day into the marketplace each day. A large majority of all darts manufactured in house goes to offshore markets with plenty sold into the NZ market too. Shot also manufactures for other global darts companies, a little less nowadays than what they used to do. But they still make darts for major global darts companies and ship them offshore for packaging and sale.
The detail in Shot’s darts is quite amazing. They are well known for making dart barrels with excellent grip and with plenty of colour. Of course, they still carry in their range the straight edged, ringed barrel that many still prefer. But their darts are very unlike their competitors, with regular updates to their range showing that Shot is no doubt a leader in their field.
I asked Peter, what makes your darts different to others manufactured overseas. He explained that “we spend a lot more time with players than most others do because we are a little bit smaller, we’re more agile and we can do it all in house. So if we want to make a change, we can get it done in 10 minutes or so, whereas out competitors will make a sample, ship it to China, then spend weeks making changes sending the sample back and forward” and may spend a considerable amount doing so and still not have it perfect.
The Shot factory houses seven lathe machines, but also has a laser machine for specific barrel etching. They also have the R&D and design process inhouse along with the titanium plant all under the one roof. At the titanium plant they might “play with 30 chambers just to get the colour right”. Peter says, “some of our darts go through up to seven different machining operations to get their unique look”. He says, “we test, test and test again until we get the dart perfect”. It’s important to get the functionality of the dart right first, then the balance and then the looks. He added that “we know for dart players, their darts are very individual to them, something to be proud of”.
Shot even back up all their tungsten darts with a lifetime barrel guarantee.
If you’d like to view the Shot darts being made in action, go to their You Tube Channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgi7rs_UMj3r9Uwgp9L6cMw for a good watch.
Peter told me that “we have a team here that is dedicated solely to R&D (Research and Development) and NPD (New Product Development). We’ve taken a lot of care in our range (of darts) such that we cover a barrel for pretty much every type of dart player.” With front, centre or even back weighted barrels, colours, length or grip. Shot darts will have something in their range for 99% of players. Many of their competitors don’t even have a rear weighted barrel in their range.
He mentioned that “Shot played catchup for a number of years”. But it’s clear that they have in no doubt overtaken many, if not all other dart manufacturers in the world, and Peter seams pretty proud of that fact.
He is so passionate about what he does and that is evident as he said that he even does Shot Darts customer complaints, so he sees what the issues are and fixes them where needed. It is clear that Shot darts cares and listens to their customer’s.
The Shot Darts business was started over 50 years ago by Peter’s father, John McCormick back in 1970. John saw a gap in the market and took the business opportunity to start, as it was known then, Puma Darts. As Puma grew into offshore markets, they needed a more global brand that identified customers to them and not to some other product. Peter explains, “dad was President of the dart club at the local RSA in Katikati” (based just in front of the Shot factory) and we all used to go and watch. He explained that darts was a real family affair, something he carried on with his own son by opening the lines of communication when his lad was an early teen.
Whilst Shot manufactures all of their darts inhouse, they no longer manufacture the dartboards with the likes of the Bandit boards that are made in their dartboard factory based in China.
When I asked why should a customer buy a Shot dartboard like the Bandit or Bandit Duro? Peter replied that Shot’s dartboards are made by sisal from just one farm in Kenya and have done so for “literally 40 years”. For those who don’t know, sisal is a plant native to southern Mexico but widely cultivated and naturalized in many other countries. This farm produces the sisal specifically for Shot darts who grow it exactly to the right grade, standard and specifications that Shot requires of them. This gives them a consistent fibre to make world class, top quality dartboards for their customers. Their base raw materials are better than their competitors as they don’t have to buy any sort of sisal available in the market but are very particular in what they source to make the best quality dartboards for their customers.
Peter states “we are the only company in the world that makes dartboards with two densities”. The Bandit Duro dartboard differs with the original Bandit as it has its sisal compacted more to suit the harder throwing dart player. Both have the exact same, top quality sisal from the same farm, it’s just that one is compacted more than the other. The Bandit Duro was released just over three years ago and is certainly made to last a lot longer and handle the harder thrower than many other dartboards on the market today, even the well-known brands. Shot were also the first in the world to produce the blade wire, some call it spider wire that is embedded into the dartboard rather than the old round wire fixed on the surface to reduce the dreaded bounce outs.
Shot Darts is a truly global business as they sell into 74 countries worldwide. Their presence is growing across much of Europe and the US with these two areas proving to be the biggest growing markets for Shot. They continue to do really well in Australia also which is virtually a domestic market for them now.
Shot have about 25 professional players that they sponsor on their books and make darts for, 6 of which are tour card holders. They also have a global program called the young guns program where Shot pairs a young up and coming player with a professional who helps mentor them through the program to better prepare them for the opportunity of turning professional and playing on the circuit.
With the current world we live in, Peter explained that Shot has recognised that some economies around the world are not doing as well as others and that the price point for customers was very important to them. They want to provide a quality dart at a price that the customer can afford. This is especially so with their new, affordable Zen range. They also want to create products for people to play darts at home. Whilst the garage dart player in New Zealand is commonplace, its not so much overseas given the climate differences or living in an apartment etc. So Shot is listening and thinking a little bit differently with products that have come out recently and are due out in the near future.
Shot darts cares, they listen and design their products based on what they are told by players, professional or not. They are pro-active and are ever changing with new products always coming through in the pipeline.
Whilst I run an online darts business here in New Zealand for the last 12 years and stock some 15 or so different brands. I have found that the local dart player knows what they want and Shot is becoming a brand that many local dart players are buying more and more of. You can view their entire range here online at: www.bullseyedarts.co.nz
Straight arrows everyone
Owner – Bullseye Darts