Here are some of George Silberzahns Answers
Question: In your playing days how come you didn’t play in the U.K.?
When I began playing darts the only style of darts was the wooden darts kind (Widdy). There were boards in about every bar, saloon, tavern, tap room and club around. I’m guessing things around here were pretty much as they were in U.K. in that each place had it own ranking of who was best. The ranking was done in two ways; who had the better average during league play and who won the money games.
For about ten years, 1960 to 1970, I played on teams and became involved in running leagues and teams, including the banquets at year end. I worked my way to the top of the ladder of who was best in both ways that was measured. I played in two leagues, pre-arranged money matches and pick up games. During this time we were unaware of anything going on outside our local area in the U.S. let alone the U.K.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s people in California, Pennsylvania, New England and New York became aware of the English style of darts, there were expatriates concentrated in those areas, and we in our area of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, learned of tournaments being held where there were cash prizes available. We headed for the tournaments – New York and New England first because they were closest and through those contacts learned of the tournaments being held in other cities across the U.S. Keep in mind the distance from my home in New Jersey to Los Angles California was 3000 miles and not something we could drive. Cleveland is 450 miles and Chicago around 1000 and there was no internet or Bulls Eye News magazine.
It was at those tournaments that we met Twomblo, Bristow, Evans, Lowe, Reese and those of their era and began to get some idea of the popularity of Darts in U.K.
Playing against these people in tournaments gave us a glimpse into how well they played the game. One of the deterrents to me traveling to U.K. was that we were told Darts tournaments in U.K. didn’t pay very, if at all. Even the world championship or what was considered to be that; The News of the World was primarily a trophy event. Darts was considered a ‘Gentlemen’s Game’ right down to women not being permitted to participate and gambling and or prize money was considered bad form. This changed in the early ‘70s I think, but might have been earlier.
Sponsorships were very few and required commitment to attend a certain number of tournaments. Quite a number of us had families to support and jobs we needed. We could manage weekends where we could leave Friday night and be home again Sunday night but traveling overseas was out of the question. Travel to tournaments in this country was difficult enough what with the cost and time involved let alone considering traveling across the ocean. Those few of us, who could and were offered them, picked up sponsors to help with expenses got to go on trips. I chose job and family.
In my particular case how well the Brits played wasn’t a deterrent at all. It wasn’t of any more concern than for the people I knew from here. I had good success against most people I ran up against and didn’t care where they lived. I didn’t keep track of who I played but I know I ended the day for a number of Brits as I worked my way through the contestants.
I do remember a final in Disney World where my four man team lost to the British team headed by Lowe (I didn’t like that). When I got ‘off the floor,’ in today’s parlance, I became very difficult to beat. On stage I was ON!! I didn’t get to play any cash money games against the Brits after tournament events were done for the day and I regret that. After tournament activity and the hotels ballrooms were pretty much shut down we were busy in local bars trying to get as much local money in our pockets as we could. Lol.
Question: Who out of all the worlds dart players would you have loved to of played the most and why?

I don’t really have an answer for that. You see, my dart world only consisted of local people I knew and those I met at tournaments. And there wasn’t much hero worship – at least from me – for any one except for those who earned my respect.
I guess, thinking back, I’d like to have gotten a chance at a best of 51 match against any of those I’d met, except Bristow. A match with him may have ended like the encounter one the guys from New England had with him. See, we didn’t take kindly, and still don’t, to people who are mouthy and think they’re all that hot. Just shut your mouth and let your darts do your talking is pretty much the attitude of most of the highly ranked people that I knew.
‘Course, a little banter was always good, so long as it was done in the right spirit, and mostly with a smile. 
Question: So you have played against Lowe, Bristow, Reese and Evans hey! Any wins George?
I didn't keep track of who I took out on the way to the finals but there was an ADO event in California where the stats were kept. I thought I put them on my website in the memorabilia section but haven’t. I’ve sent that record so you can see how it went. As I recall my record was as strong as any of the British people. I had the second highest PPD average – it was 24 point something, second highest I think.
Then there was the International in NYC where forty U.K. county Champions came by ship for a weekend of competition, which I won, so for sure I took out more than one on my way to winning, and they could have been among those.
I remember Paul Gosling or Goslin, sitting at the finals commenting, and now that my memory has been refreshed, it went like this. We had finished the first game, I’d won it, and we were at the back end of game two with me on a double, I missed the one dart I had at it on the previous turn and things were interrupted by the lights on the board going out. Someone had knocked the cord out of the socket and Bob Mcleod, he was the East Coast organizer of all things darts at the time, was all in a frazzle about getting it put back in, so Paul took that opportunity to comment about my miss with it was a good thing I wasn’t playing against him like that. I think I said something like “You’re watching me, so maybe I already did?” The lights came back on and Bob asked: “Are alright?” Shy guy I was I gave a short answer “Of course,” I was busy with Dan Valletto at the time, stepped to the oche and drilled it.

Question: “Were you ever involved in the American style darts, the wooden Widdys, and if so what do you feel about is decline.”

I guess my view of the demise of the American style of darts is that it just didn’t keep up with the changing times and attitudes. I see English style darts going the same way. When compared to the flashing lights and sounds and excitement that comes from a row of electronic dart machines the sisal, steel tip boards seem dull and boring, especially to those younger types who have grown up with ipods, ipads etc.

I began playing darts in 1960 and the only style of darts was the wooden darts kind (Widdy).
There were leagues aplenty all over the place. I lived in Southern New Jersey and from New England 500 miles north to Ohio 500 miles west to Virginia 500 miles south there were boards in about every bar, saloon, tavern, tap room and club around.
I became President of the league I was in and got into running the year end banquet so got interested in what was going on in places other than my area. That gave me some insight into how things worked and how many leagues there were and how big they were. That and I was interested in augmenting my income from pick up games with people who were so inclined which took me to traveling around, and that broadened my view too.

The teams and leagues were pretty much made up of the same type of person no matter where I traveled. What we call ‘blue collar’ worker types. I think that name came from the blue denim work clothes those of us who worked with our hands wore. Some of the companies supplied the work clothes.

Most of the leagues grew out of the depression era when no one had much money and gathered in bars and saloons since they didn’t have jobs. When I got into things it was after WWII and before the Vietnam nastiness and bars and saloons were still popular gathering places. They weren’t places where ‘nice’ girls would go. There were places called Taverns and Lounges that they could go to by themselves and not feel trampy.

There were bar games supplied for the patron’s amusement: shuffle board, pool tables and dart boards. Some of the older bars still had spittoons in them (nasty old things). The darts were supplied by the bar owners, and pretzels and sandwiches were put up by the bar owners to attract customers. Draft beer was popular.

As women became more ‘equal’ the social scene changed and the Taverns and Lounges began picking up business from the bars and saloons. This, I guess, coincided with when the dart leagues began shrinking. The WWII people aged and lost interest in bars, and began dying off, which contributed to the bars and saloons becoming less popular and the decline of darts continued.

The blue collar bunch experienced an increase in standard of living and became less inclined, what with families to raise and greater responsibilities, to hang out in bars, so the dart teams continued to disappear. Around 1969 or so the leagues were much smaller. They were down to less than half the size they were in 1960 and now they are very rare.

Question: “The main problem with my game is not being able to take my practice game to a match. In the pub half an hour before the match I’m playing well and feel good. But once the match starts and its my turn oh dear, it ain’t pretty mate! I realize it’s in my head (plenty of empty space there) but how can I overcome putting excessive pressure on myself and therefore putting nervous?”

Here’s what I’ve learned about shooting pressure darts and built into Flight School.
I believe that jitters / anxiety come from lack of confidence that you can "put this dart in that hole." The way to overcome this lack of confidence is to know beyond doubt or as little doubt as you can muster, that you are able to "put this dart in that hole." The Flight School drills are designed for you to learn exactly that about yourself.
You will be able to tell your self “I can do this” and know you can because you will have been doing it, over and over during your practice sessions.
In order to finish the Flight School drills you’ll need to develop a mind set during your solitary practice. You learn confidence without knowing you are, the drills are sneaky that way. And when it comes to competition that attitude will be available for you to use to over come “Wobbly Knees Syndrome”. That’s a made up name; you won’t find it in dictionary – yet ;-).
This - developing your stroke - is not an end game thing, it is a process. It’s one which takes place over time. You will need to give yourself the time, months of it, to grow your confidence but know this: you are using the best tools there are to do that, and you will get there.

As for shooting pressure darts, what do you think causes you to miss: (1) is it because you are afraid of choking? Or (2) is it because you are over excited?
If it is number 1, it would seem that you have a confidence problem. If that is the case, A1 and A2 or A3 should already be working on fixing that. Take your practice attitude with you to the oche and shoot the shot just as you do every practice session. Your practice will pull you through.
Being excited is why we play the game, isn't it? Enjoy the tingling, the rush!
From beginning to end Flight School will help you to have confidence in yourself in all aspects of the game. You will not only gain confidence that you can hit any out, but also hit any triple as well. Flight School will not take away from knowing you have a pressure shot, but it will give you the knowledge that you can hit that out, or triple, at any given time, taking away any fear you may have had in the past.
The more you play against better competition the more confidence you will gain in these pressure shots. Competition is practice for competition.
The best advice I can give you is to stop worrying about who you are playing, and just play your game as you practice. I hope this has helped you in some small way
Question: Did you reach your potential in your own opinion?
How would I know what my potential is – was? There was no ultimate achievement to strive for such as a World Champion of darts. There were competitions that tried to bill themselves as the ultimate achievement but that fell short. That situation exists today. Phil Taylor has been recognized as the world champion because he’s outplayed everyone else so many times, in so many tournaments, not because he’s won a specific title.
I guess ‘potential’ can be measured against what is possible? Perfect games might be a measure? Perfected control over the flight path of your darts, would be another gauge? A given number of tournament wins, but which ones?
I was blessed with a release (stroke) that with only minor tweeks, but one hellava lot of work, is extremely smooth, so that is a potential reached: an excellent stroke.
Could I have won more tournaments? Oh, yeah, I could have if I had chosen the path of going’ pro’ and went for a sponsorship. The cost in relationship and treasure was too high for the reward, so I did not go that route and that as a potential seems unrealistic.
How about outstanding achievements within the sphere of your dart world? Now that would be something a person could think about as a potential. Using that as a measure: I’ve won all the notable accomplishments in the leagues I’ve played in: Most tons, cricket nines, games won, highest average, most high ons, and most high outs and, in fact, all those were combined into one trophy (saved the league money) in one league. ;-)
There is one potential I’ve come close to reaching and that is helping people get more enjoyment from the game/sport of Darts. My curiosity of how others ‘do it’ and my dedication to getting me as good as can be, and the struggle of coming back after more than fifteen years being out of the ‘game’ combined with my knack of writing, is providing me satisfaction beyond what, in my opinion, is my potential for having an affect on the game/sport of darts – world wide!! I get feed back from Flight Schoolers every week telling me of the achievements and enjoyment someone has experienced as a result of using the Flight School drills and techniques. People in over 25 countries are enrolled in Flight School – can you believe it? And the things I think go into building a sound, solid game, and thought would work for others, is proving to be exactly right. Now that is a potential that as a young guy from a town of under 3000 people, in a place not particularly noted for Darts skill, was way beyond considering, but I can accept.
Question: What have you learned in your darting life that you wish you knew earlier on in your career?
I should have thought more about how team mates feel about me being a team mate; that they can enjoy my effort and share my disappointments as well.
I discovered I have a knack for being able to express myself in writing. That and my interest in how other people were going about ‘doing it’ allowed me to gather information that could be useful. I could help people who wanted to learn from what I was doing and how I was doing it. I began writing about those things when I switched from the American style of darts to the English style.
I should have considered how some people I played with, and against, liked just being associated with me because I was the ‘big gun’ and the memories that were being built were being affected by what I did, said, and how I acted.
The closer I got to a dart board the less warm and fuzzy I became and the more people had to accommodate me. Those who knew me best saw past the fierce competitor but I could have made that easier for them. Fortunately I wasn’t a negative but I did let my competitive attitude send out strong vibes that put some people off.
I learned late that my loved ones want to see me happy, not sad or depressed, and could have made efforts to put a better face on my darts life when things didn’t go so well. And not take my frustration home with me - only my achievements, no matter how small.
I should have prepared for when I could no longer do it as well, but who knew that day would come??
Question: George, do your think the level of skill has reached its peak with Phil Taylor?
Well, what else? The man has thrown how many perfect games? And outplayed how many others, for how many years?
Like all the other super people who have reached the highest, such as Beckham (I spell that right?) and Jordan, and Woods, he showed up on the scene light years ahead of anyone and stayed ahead while others saw what could be done and began reaching for it.
I believe his will power is the same as he has always had and his ability will stay where it is also. But others will reach his same height and he will begin losing a bit, until it just isn’t so much fun anymore, then we’ll see what he does. Retire, do exhibitions, what ever, but his skill level is what it is: simply great and what will eventually let him down is his desire to compete.
Question: What (if you can narrow it down to just one) would you say is the most helpful thing you ever learned about dealing with the pressure of competition?
Competition is practice for competition. The more you play against better competition the more confidence you will gain in these pressure situations.
And practice is not practice. It came to me that what I was doing was more developing and perfecting my delivery of darts to the dart board than practicing. It was, and is, the phases of developing and perfecting the control of the flight path of darts to a dart board.
Oh, by the way, there was no such thing as Flight School. The way I “practiced” became Flight School. I use the word practice because it is much easier than trying to go into this long explanation of why Flight School drills are not “practice.”
And competing is not competing: it is putting your “practice” is use. When I got into competition I remembered I was taking my practice for a test flight and the work I put in would show itself, so this is what I tell anyone who will listen.
The best thing I learned was to stop worrying about who I was playing, and just play the game same as I “practiced.” I knew from the drills I used day after day after day, and sticking darts into holes within my targets that all I had to do was let myself walk up to the board same as I had been doing so much and focus on my target the same way. I had complete confidence that I could send a dart into a target spot without thinking about doing it.
Flight School drills had made me better at "playing the board" as opposed to playing an opponent and I believe you will have the same experience.
I believe, and feed back from so many Flight Schoolers is confirming, that the answer to your question is: getting to know, without doubt, that you can stick a dart right where you want it.
Question: When you first played steel tip I assume you must have used brass darts which were no doubt thicker that tungsten. Can you describe what your experience was when you first moved from brass to tungsten did you instantly feel and play better with the tungstens
Question: In your playing career how many sets of darts would you say you have used and what reasons did you have for changing darts when you did so?
Question: The question is, or was, are heavier darts easier to throw for an average player than light weight darts?
To start with I didn’t switch from brass directly to tungsten; they cost too much money. I worked in a DuPont manufacturing plant as an Instrument mechanic and as such had lots of contact with people who worked in the trades. Among them was someone that I shot darts with who happened to be a machinist Mill Wright. You are right about the brass darts being thicker than tungsten but my concern wasn’t that, since that thickness was close to that of the Widdy wooden darts I had been using for ten years, my concern was the weight. Widdies are around 12 grams so I wanted something close to that. I asked my friend if he would make me a set of darts out of aluminum stock and he did. I bought shafts (stems) with feathers and he put points in them from American Widdies. That was my first set of English style darts.
I won enough money to get a set of brass darts just before I moved to Cleveland, Ohio. I started looking to tungsten and how much more room they left in the lipstick and I happened to play with another guy who was a machinist, although not a really good one. I asked if he could make me a set that have a concave section where my thumb rested and he said that he could. It took a few months but one night in he came with them. That was around 1976ish.
One dart was 22grms, one was 23 grms and one was between them. He wanted $30 and I asked if he wanted to play best of five games for double or nothing and I’d play with my new darts. He did and I got my darts for nothing.
I switched to plastic flights since I was having difficulty getting feathers. I began cutting my plastic flights down to about thumb nail size and still use one set of flights for years. I don’t smash them up very much.
The point in one dart had gotten softened when the guy heated it to put it in the dart so it bent a bit during play sometimes and I’d stop and take the bend out. About half the end of one dart broke out where the point is inserted and I had to super glue the point in once in a while. I had to carry a tube of super glue around with me.
It sort of ticked some people off, the ones with sparkling new flights and pointy points and the latest tungsten barrels when I kept winning like I did.
I wonder if my set of miss matched weight, bent point, broken barrel darts and cut down flights that I never changed, had something to do with why I didn’t get very many offers from sponsors? ;-)
I let my priorities get really messed up so much that I put my work ahead of my darts and quit from 1984 to 2000. I used those darts until I decided to get back into the game. I still have them and use them for six at once grouping exercise.
When I retired from working for a living I found a local machine shop, took my battered looking darts and asked if they could make me a new set. They did and they are all the same weight – 26 grms, and the points are not bent or glued in.
Question: George, what is the best advice you ever got?
Put your back foot on the floor!
I was throwing darts in my neighborhood saloon on a Saturday afternoon, just killing time and in came a stranger. He got a draft beer and came back to where I was, watched a couple of minutes and asked “Do you someone called Hawk?” I did and told him so. Hawk was a neighbor of mine and we played on the same dart team. I was about to start my third year at the game. This fella asked if Hawk might be in sometime soon, and I told him I didn’t think so. He looked kind of disappointed, and then asked if I wanted to play a few games. Sure I say and we played for about fifteen minutes. I could just tell this guy was really good. He told me his name was Tom and that he was looking to catch up with Hawk to play a few games for money. There were guys who did things like that: go from place to place looking for money games and me being a beginner, I was very impressed to be in the company of this well known hustler. He could tell I didn’t have any money so he thanked me for the games and asked me to tell Hawk he was looking for him.
As he put his empty beer glass down he said: “You got a good shot there, but you’d do better if you put your back foot on the floor.”

Thanks to George!
i enjoyed that great read
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you need to stop quoting 1 in lol
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George is in the American Darts Hall of fame along with a few familiar names like Bristow, Jockey Wilson,Lowe just to name a few.
(04-10-2013, 08:37 PM)*Saber* Wrote: George is in the American Darts Hall of fame along with a few familiar names like Bristow, Jockey Wilson,Lowe just to name a few.

and Larry Allen?
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