Rope Dart Elbow Shoot: Single or Double Wrap?

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A question came in with regard to the elbow shot. Here is the question exactly as I received it:

Have you ever considered the double wrap rear elbow shot? I have, and it all came about after some target practice. There has always been something about the rear elbow shot I didn’t like and now I know what it is. With the single wrap, the dart head wobbles or tilts after shooting, but with the second wrap, the head is straight on, and is easier to target with, well at least for me. It also seems to pack a meaner punch too. Not sure if my observations are correct, but that might be a reason the second wrap was developed and why a third wrap wasn’t. One wrap for speed, two for power (and perhaps accuracy, my opinion only), three, not practical. Well those are my thoughts. I know you like topics like this, so lets hear yours. –Robert

Hey Robert,

Great question, I had asked myself the same thing years ago and here are the thoughts:

Let me start by saying that I am not a physicist (what? no way!) and the information here is based on my humble and elementary understanding of physics. You are absolutely correct in that 2 wraps equals more power. The reason for this has to do with the shortening of the rope. If we take, say, a baseball and strung it to a pole (believe this called “tetherball”) and swing it around so that it wrapped the pole we would notice that the ball would travel faster as it came towards the end of the rope. We see the same thing when we watch a figure skater spin. With their arms out they will spin at a given speed, when they pull their arms in close to their body they are now spinning at a faster rate. In physics this is referred to as angular momentum.

With the tetherball, assume your elbow is the pole (origin) and the rope dart is the ball on a string. Both the pole and your elbow stay stationary as the object rotates. With the figure skater, it is a bit different in that the origin of the spin is her body. In other words, the tetherball pole does not spin whereas the ice skaters body does; the ice is the tetherball pole. However, the same rule that a spinning object will speed up when it is nearer the origin still applies. By bringing her arms in, the figure skater speeds up. By bringing the ball closer to the pole, the ball speeds up. The reason lays within the physics: the closer to the origin an object is, the faster it will travel. We see this in our own solar system. The planets closer to the sun rotate around faster and thus have a shorter solar year. So, does this apply to the elbow shot? I venture to guess so. By wrapping twice you are shortening the rope around the origin, which is the elbow. This increase in speed directly correlates to what you have discovered: more power because power equals work over time (P=W/T). The closer the skater pulls her arms in fighting the centripetal force (work) the faster she spins (time).

Shortening the wrap also decreases the amount of “wobbling” you spoke of. I have referred to this wobble as a “rattle” and of course the less rattle the better. By double wrapping you also create a tightness around the elbow that contains more potential energy. This packs the punch you spoke of when that potential energy transitions into kinetic energy. As you also pointed out, the single wrap is faster to get off (but not necessarily faster in flight) because you are not waiting as long to shoot. So this begs the question that you are asking, which is better?

I have come to favor the single rope dart elbow show with a slight catch to it. Not only do I wrap once but I also “choke up” on the rope as I do it, meaning I give myself less rope so that I am wrapping closer to the dart head. It takes some time to get the feel but you’ll get it with practice. This choking up shortens the rope around the origin and I found that now I can have both speed and power. This also decreases rattling. Be careful you don’t wrap too short or the dart won’t shoot.

When I first started practicing, I would actually wrap once, twice, three, four and then repeat! I did this for both anchor and lead elbow shots, forward and backward and this is how I conditioned myself with the dart. I wanted to be able to shoot in multiple wrap variations. Would I ever really use four wraps in forms or defense? Of course not. Nor would I use three. But if you could learn to wrap four times, well, it is a great way to practice control and good for rope dart conditioning.

With regard to accuracy, it comes down to the individual. I have seen folks double wrap and can’t hit anything, I’ve seen them single wrap and not hit anything. I have seen both be successful.

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