Arachnid 360 – On the Road Again
Pushing Forward with Fundamentals in Soft-Tipped Darts & Games
Much like a dart playfield, the history of Arachnid is full circle. Incorporated in 1975, founder Paul Beall was a driving force in establishing the company and by the mid-1980s, it was flourishing.
They started holding seminars to assist distributors and operators, and began BullShooter Regionals in 1986 – along with their first tournament in Chicago in May of that year. That first tourney had four events and paid out $25,000 in prize money (today, there are more than 20 events and $130,000 in prizes).
A change of ownership led the business into the 1990s, but in 2014, the next generation of Bealls took over. Paul’s three sons – Tony, Chris and Shawn – regained the reins. “Through their leadership, they’ve guided Arachnid back to the progressive, family-oriented foundation built by their father, and kept it as a staple in the industry,” said Sam Zammuto, the Arachnid president who’s been with the company since its early years.
Now, Zammuto said, reality is once again being proven stranger than fiction with the “COVID chaos” affecting the industry and the world. “Nevertheless, people are built to be social, and there’s nothing more social than good old-fashioned darts, with its engaging draw that includes the right balance of camaraderie and competition.”
He added: “Blocked, but not stopped, dart players are chomping at the bit to get back in the game. Arachnid stays committed to making that possible, every step of the way, ready to help operators ramp up with leagues and tournaments – beyond the traditional, local, in-house only – allowing them to expand their offerings with everything remote, too.”
The company’s leading product continues to be its Galaxy series of electronic dart boards. The Galaxy 3 Fire and Plus both feature a dual, automatic rotating dart head with 15” and 13” targets, a selection of skill and fun games, and offers entertainment and challenge to any level dart players – from beginner to advanced. Arachnid has nearly 30,000 Galaxy 3 and 27,000 Galaxy 2 dart boards in the field.
“The most popular is the Fire with its illuminated glow,” Zammuto noted. “It’s impossible to miss and energizes a location.”
As sales continued to grow, with more than 1,000 operators joining the ranks and leagues expanding around the country, the company says its development efforts focus “on ensuring a robust networking infrastructure to support the increasing demand for bandwidth as its multifaceted software services are taken advantage of in new ways to accommodate the variety in operator approaches.”
They’ve also been dedicated to expanding their League Leader and Remote Play services globally, into areas of Europe such as Spain, France and Germany, as well as moving a number of games into Australia.
Arachnid has also extended its reach by making its tournaments more accessible. Previously, players interested in joining Tournament King Online (TKO) events were required to have a ranked play account on Bull ShooterLive.com, where they had to login, or via QR code on the BullShooter mobile app.
Since rebranded to TK-Mini, operators “will now be able to have the league coordinators run local, in-house events where no login is required, greatly simplifying tournament events,” Zammuto said.
Additionally, Arachnid has recently expanded from the commercial dartboard space into homes, introducing the Spider 360 models for home play and practice, and the Spider 1000 and Spider 2000 products, which are aimed at attracting new players to the sport of soft-tipped dart play. Those machines have home-use-only leaderboard competitions where players can get introduced to dart play, build their skill level, and as they improve, get invites to real dart leagues and tournaments.
Outside of darts, Arachnid has also significantly upgraded its Virtual Tables Games product, DiscGlo Shuffle Board, through enhanced software monitoring and structural innovations to the scoring system to eliminate game play delays. A field update kit is now available for existing units. Another amusement game Arachnid offers is the Chuck-A-Luck, which is a set of four dart heads that rotate on a counter-clockwise spinning wheel, testing player skill as they shoot at moving targets to score points.
Like everyone else, the company has also had to contend with the COVID-19 crisis. As the lockdowns first hit, the 35th BullShooter contest was underway. For the first time in three decades, they had to cancel the main event tournament in May.
“Having our TK-Mini in development proved to be kind of prescient,” Zammuto said. “No one saw this country shutdown coming, with one tournament after another canceled like falling dominoes. With jurisdictions opening slowly, having various restrictions and regulations operators and locations need to comply with, smaller crowds are likely, and our TK-Mini works with both remote and local tournaments to help coordinate participants allowed as needed.”
Since future regional dates remain uncertain, the timing for TK-Mini to help operators keep players engaged “could not be better.”
The Illinois-based company maintained a skeleton crew in the early months of the pandemic. Various team members came in as needed while others, if possible, worked remotely to maintain manufacturing, sales and customer service. Sales of their at-home Spider series was helpful as many commercial locations shut down – and still remain temporarily shuttered in many locales.
“Also, with operators being able to focus on maintenance and fixing boards, we have seen a steady flow of part sales to get them up and running,” Zammuto added. “Our goal is to get back to full workforce when it is necessary and safely possible.”
They’ve also maintained contact with their six sales representatives, who before the pandemic were on the road five days a week doing demonstrations of units and training operators on leagues and tournaments. They are all still available to help with any operator needs, including Bob Wiles (East Coast); Phil Johnson (Mid-Atlantic); Patrick Mulligan (Southeast); Chad Zander (Midwest); Kidd Cardenas (Southwest); and Larry “Bucky” Buckwalter (West Coast).
Of course, some areas are quite a bit more open than others around the country. “In more flexible jurisdictions, dart play is kicking into high gear because people have been bored beyond tears, longing to get out and socialize,” Zammuto explained. “The evening after the Wisconsin Supreme Court overruled its governor, players were out in droves.”
For the slow-to-open areas, he said, “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it so challenging, but if anyone can bounce back, it’s hard-working operators.”
At Arachnid, the team remains in it for the long haul. Darts, Zammuto said, has a 400-plus year history – with plenty of ups and downs through different cycles. “Arachnid has remained strong over the last 40 years,” he said.
“We did not invent darts, just reinvented it, and continue to do so with the latest technology has to offer,” Zammuto said. “Our A-Team is committed to do what it takes, and we’re on the road again pushing the fundamentals of casual dart play into leagues, tournaments, and with the expanded possibilities of players being able to connect around the world remotely, safely, too.
“The pandemic has encouraged us to continue working hard, keep pushing forward, and do the right things to help others with the issues they face as we navigate the road ahead. It is our goal to be an avid partner to operators and distributors, and assist them in looking forward to a normal, bright future the best we can. Lastly, we want everyone to wash their hands and smile!”