Column #341 Philadelphia’s Bill Davis — the only American left standing!

Monday, December 22, 2008
Column 341
Philadelphia’s Bill Davis — the only American left standing!

Engraved above a mirror that hangs in my bedroom is a quote that has special significance to me: “Do the right thing every doggone day of your life.”

That’s my guidepost.

— Bill Davis
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Nickname: Bill … I think.
Date of Birth: March 6, 1959
Place of Birth: Irumagawa, Japan
Hometown: I’ve lived in Philadelphia for the last 24 years and consider it home.
Occupation: In the midst of a career change.
Hobbies: Listening to music, learning cello, reading.
Movie: Wizard of Oz and Amelie
Television Show: I don’t watch television
Book: In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore and The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp.
Favorite Night on the Town: Dinner or a show with my wife, Jane
Meal: Pizza, Chocolate, and Coffee.
Sports Team: I’m not really much of a sports fan, because I could care less who wins.
Music: Pat Methany and Yo-Yo Ma
Pet Peeve: Ignorance, superstition and xenophobia.
Worst Habit: Switching darts equipment.
What most people don’t know about me: I’m a pretty quiet and private person and as much as I love the intensity and competition of darts, I’m equally uncomfortable with the limelight.
Weapon of Choice: Custom made 18 gram darts, with moveable points.
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I was twenty-five years old in 1984 when I wandered into a bohemian bar called Dirty Franks, where I saw a group of people in the back shooting darts who looked like they were having fun. I went back and watched for a while and figured out the rules. I came back the next week and put my name on the board, and immediately fell in love with the game.

When I was an undergraduate, I had a part-time job working for the Penn State University golf course and played almost every day. Golf is one of those activities where you control your own growth and improvement. It’s about practice, and developing body mechanics and mental strength. I loved the game, but it’s expensive, and I pretty much quit once I graduated from college. Three years later, when I picked up darts for the first time, I thought to myself, “This is poor man’s golf”. Immediately I recognized that it required a similar skill set. Playing darts is more mental than physical, and I suspect I would enjoy any activity or sport requiring that mindset.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from many different people – from tips on out-shots and cricket strategy, advice about grips and preferred equipment, displays of enthusiasm and commitment to the sport, to simple acts of encouragement and kindness. I’ve been shooting darts for over 20 years, and all of the names and sources of inspiration wouldn’t fit into the space of this article.

Darts is an interesting sport in that there are probably 200 shooters in this country who are capable of winning on any given day, but the key to recognizing where someone might rank is consistency and the ability to repeat ones performance. The accomplishments I’m most proud of are my seven Mr. Philadelphia 501 singles titles in the past ten years; my making the US National Team the previous three years, and being a part of the 2003 team that won the gold and bronze medals in the 2003 World Cup; and my year-end American Darts Organization (ADO) rankings of the past few years.

As for a nemesis, there’s no one in this country! As I’ve said, America has a lot of good shooters who are capable of winning on any given day, but I’m one of them.

And I can’t really say I have a hero in the sport. I admire all of the top PDC players because their commitment to excellence is self-evident. The same goes to all the names in the top 30-40 spots in the ADO and Bull’s-Eye News rankings for their dedication and commitment to the sport, because there is very little financial reward. And I applaud the various tournament organizers, and the dart organizations that back them, who’ve made playing this sport possible.

I’m not really one to worship heroes or celebrities. No one is perfect; yet there are so many people who inspire others by their acts of courage, kindness, or conviction. There are people that I especially admire for their faith and commitment to excellence and imagination. Most are musicians or creative and intellectual types like Michel Petrucciani or Albert Einstein, who constantly advocated the virtues of discipline, dedication and hard work. Then there are others like my parents who helped create my own passion for excellence.

Now I’ve competed in the first World Series of Darts (WSOD). I’m extremely pleased that I was able to participate and that I made the cut, but I’m disappointed in my performance. I lost 6-4 to Dennis Ovens and I keep telling myself I’m better than that. I’m also extremely thankful to the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and ESPN for their involvement and sponsorship. I’m already looking forward to next year. I will make the stage. And I will give a better showing.

What would I have done if I’d have won the million dollars, or if I do next year? I’d travel and, maybe, move to Europe to shoot with the big boys. Of course, a great sponsor would enable me to do that, as well.

The WSOD has made a difference in quality of darts in this country and I suspect you will hear the same comment from the other guys who qualified. Darts of course, has an image problem in this country. Although it’s improving, I would still like to see more sportsmanship and professionalism. Hopefully, the PDC’s involvement in US darts, and the strictness of their rules, will bring about some positive changes and increased economic sponsorship.

These days I’m just playing the bigger tournaments. I’ll be at the PDC’s Las Vegas Desert Classic and a few Halex sponsored tournaments in August and September. Since I currently don’t have a sponsor, the smaller tournaments are not cost-effective. The main reason I go is to play singles; but I play doubles because I’m there and it’s an opportunity to make extra money to cover expenses. As I’ve said, there’s a lot of talent in this country and I enjoy playing with different people (if not for making doubles more competitive, but for the variety) so I’ll play with almost any decent shooter who asks. I’ve shot doubles with about 75% of the WSOD qualifiers and would gladly shoot with most of them again. There are just too many good shooters and not enough tournaments.

My goal is to improve my game to the point that I’m constantly and consistently playing competitively with the top players in the world. I don’t have a specific practice routine. I throw lots of 301 – it’s quick, it forces you to work on doubles and you have to move around the board. Lately I have been practicing with a new game called 41 that Isen Veljic taught me. For cricket I play quite a bit of 28 and for consistency I will not quit until I win five consecutive games.

What is my most embarrassing darts experience?

Easy question – but I’m surely not going to remind anyone!

If I was stranded on a remote island, who would I most want to be stranded with?

Also easy: My wife Jane, of course!

And when my darts career is over how would I like to be remembered?

That’s the easiest question of all…

I hope to be remembered as a great shooter AND a good sport.

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Dartoid
Author of the column that since 1995 has been featured by Bull’s Eye News, the American Darts Organization’s (ADO) Double Eagle and numerous other darts publications and websites around the globe.
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