Out of Production, but still producing: disc value is in the eye of the holder

If you frequent online enclaves such as the the Disc Golf Collector Exchange group on Facebook, or the similar forum pages on the Disc Golf Course Review website, the acronym O-O-P is well known to you. It stands for ‘out of production’ and refers to discs that are no longer being produced by their manufacturer. This of course is significant to collectors because it means a disc that is O-O-P is in limited supply and therefore of potentially higher value.

It means something to me, too, but for a different reason. While collectors get excited about O-O- P, I get nervous.

Having played disc golf for more than 20 years now, I own close to 100 discs not including the stock I have on hand for use in my School of Disc Golf. But I would not consider myself a collector. Possibly a bit of a historian, and more than anything else an accumulator, I’d say. But as collectors are thought of as those who like to build a collection either as a hobby or for profit, I can safely say that isn’t me.

The author collects only discs with personal significance. Among this group are his first ace, most memorable ace, a disc to commemorate the opening of the first course in S.F., a NorCal 'Hotshot' disc awarded for the low round in a tour event, and a prototype DGA Blowfly signed and given to him by Steady Ed Headrick. Blurry photo by Jack Trageser
The author collects only discs with personal significance. Among this group are his first ace, most memorable ace, a disc to commemorate the opening of the first course in S.F., a NorCal ‘Hotshot’ disc awarded for the low round in a tour event, and a prototype DGA Blowfly signed and given to him by Steady Ed Headrick. Blurry photo by Jack Trageser

I have some discs that would go for much more than their original sales price if I ever decided to sell them, but all the discs in my possession that I value the most are dear to me for one of two other reasons: either I have a sentimental attachment to them – like my first ace disc or a prototype signed and given to me by Steady Ed Headrick; or they are out of production and I still use them to play. It’s the second of these that is the main subject of today’s post. Irreplaceable actually retains its literal definition when the object that is difficult or impossible to replace is actually serving a function rather than just gathering dust (in it’s dust-cover, of course). The mere thought of losing a key disc in your bag and not being able to replace it can cause little beads of sweat to form on one’s forehead- am I right?

In my bag right now, along with an Obex, Trak, Lace, Blizzard Ape, Blizzard Destroyer, ESP Nuke, Pig and two Aviars, are no less than four such discs. Every time one of those gems flies out of my sight I feel like a father whose teenage daughter is out on a date. (Okay, as a father with actual daughters I admit that’s an exaggeration, but still!) These are discs that if lost or broken would leave a big hole in my life, er, I mean my bag.

First there is my gummy Champion Beast. It is a pre-Barry Schultz mold that flies very straight and is great for low, flat S-shots. And the material is virtually indestructible ( I have a theory that Innova stopped using it because it’s too durable). I stocked up a bit on these so I’m prepared should it ever get lost, but still. O-O-P.

The author's orange gummy Champion Beast. Purchased on eBay after it was already O-O-P, after he had already fallen in love with it as a 'thrower'. Photo by Jack Trageser
The author’s orange gummy Champion Beast. Purchased on eBay after it was already O-O-P, after he had already fallen in love with it as a ‘thrower’. Photo by Jack Trageser

Next is my Pro-Line Rhyno, very soft and grippy yet firm for throwing. I’m sure I can replace it if I have to, but I’ve checked on eBay where I actually bought this one, after losing its predecessors) and the price is going O-O-P up . . .

The author's well-worn ProLine Rhyno. Flexible, but not floppy. Grippy, and still hold's the (Pro) line. Photo by Jack Trageser
The author’s well-worn ProLine Rhyno. Flexible, but not floppy. Grippy, and still hold’s the (Pro) line. Photo by Jack Trageser

After that is a disc that is a perfect midrange for me as a straight flyer that can also hold a turnover line forever: my yellow Champion Cobra. This disc doesn’t say ‘First Run’ on the stamp, but I think they only made these in this mold for a short time. It’s very different from both the original Cobra and the ones being made now, with a completely flat top and decidedly midrange nose profile. I have one other one (in purple), but it doesn’t fly quite the same. Whenever this disc isn’t exactly where I expect it to be, my heart rate rises steadily until it’s safely in my bag once again.

The first version of Innova's Cobra made in Champion plastic. Very different from the original Cobra mold, and in the author's viewpoint the perfect flat/turnover midrange disc. Photo by Jack Trageser
The first version of Innova’s Cobra made in Champion plastic. Very different from the original Cobra mold, and in the author’s viewpoint the perfect flat/turnover midrange disc. Photo by Jack Trageser

Finally, there is the great-grandfather of my bag, a 173-gram DGA Disc Golf Disc Distance Driver that was made in 1989. This baby has both practical and sentimental value. It’s my go-to finesse roller  with no conceivable replacement waiting in the wings. And being a virtual antique made when there was no other plastic other than what is now known as ‘DX’ (Innova’s designation for the lowest grade) I cringe whenever it so much as heads for a tree. I originally purchased four of them from Steady Ed himself, at the DGA factory, but the other three have all died the deaths of brave warriors. There is virtually no chance of replacing this disc, and every time I get it to roll perfectly on my second throw on hole 13 at DeLa, it’s like watching one of those vintage World War I planes zoom across the sky. There is a sense of watching history unfold before your eyes, but also a nervousness around the fragility and irreplaceable nature of that disc in particular. Discs are meant to fly (and roll), though, and I’ll keep using it as long as I can.

It says driver, but this one is now most valuable as a super finesse roller. Also, I bought it was purchased from the Father of Disc Golf. That's something, too. Photo by Jack Trageser
It says driver, but this one is now most valuable as a super finesse roller. Also, I bought it was purchased from the Father of Disc Golf. That’s something, too. Note the copyright date on the stamp of 1989. Photo by Jack Trageser

By the way, a quick side-note about this disc: When I bought it in 1998 it was already out of production. Those who knew Steady Ed will appreciate the fact that he charged me $20 for each of them.

So my questions for you are, do you have O-O-P discs in your bag? What are they? Are you a collector who has rare discs that you’d like to throw but don’t want to reduce their value as collectibles? Use the comments section to join the conversation. I’m sure we’re all interested to hear the range of opinions on this one, and I personally love hearing about other antique discs that are still out there producing, even if they are officially Out Of Production.

Roller Shots, Part 2: Now we tell you How

The first thing to know about throwing roller shots is that if you can throw backhand and sidearm, you already know much of what you need to know. Roller shots don’t require learning an entirely new technique- just a new twist on your most basic throws. Whereas with most air shots the aim is to keep the disc aloft most of the way to the target, roller shots need to hit the ground early. And as opposed to air shots, where you usually want the disc to land mostly flat it won’t roll away, roller shots are calculated to not only land on it’s edge but on its edge at a specific angle so it goes the direction and distance you intend.

By the way, if you didn’t catch Part 1 of this instructional post – which covers the Who, What, When, Where and Why of roller shots, you can check it out here (ADD LINKS).

Now on to the How.

Proper roller technique requires a high release point, exaggerated nose angle, and a torso with a tilted axis.

Much of what I know about throwing roller shots comes from my personal roller mentor, Alan ‘Flash’ Friedman. I tapped into his knowledge base for this post, and even filmed a quick video and posted it on YouTube. Don’t be lazy and just watch the video, though, as all by itself it doesn’t do a great job of explaining how to properly throw rollers.

According to Flash, there are two types of roller shots- the finesse version (thrown using understable or ‘beat’ discs), and ‘high-tech’ rollers that require an overstable disc.

The finesse roller has been around for as long as people have been throwing flying discs, and was discovered initially due to the relative understable nature of early discs. As we all know, if a disc can’t handle the amount of speed and spin with which it is thrown, it turns over quickly and if the turn is aggressive enough hits the ground at an angle and rolls. It didn’t take long for experimental types to learn how to use this to their advantage, and the purposeful finesse roller shot was born. Finesse rollers are usually thrown so that the transition from air to ground is pretty gradual and smooth, somewhere midway between takeoff and the intended final destination. My favorite finesse roller is so old and understable that I often need to throw it with hyzer so it doesn’t turn over too soon. Talk about finesse!

The ‘high tech’ roller is simply a roller shot thrown with a much more stable disc. The increased stability of the disc means it won’t turn over (just like an air shot, this means curling to the right for a RHBH thrower) as easily or as soon. It also means that the technique used to get the disc to roll is much more extreme. If you think it’s hard to throw an overstable disc flat and straight, imagine what it takes to make it roll!

The ‘high tech’ roller shot involves an even steeper nose angle and torso axis, as well as aiming for a landing spot much closer to the thrower.

This brings us to Flash’s two keys to executing a roller shot: modifying your technique to get the right angle based on the specific disc and the type of roller shot (finesse or high tech), and picking a specific spot where your disc will first hit the ground.

As far as technique is concerned, as stated at the beginning of this post you’ll just be modifying the throw you’re using most of the time. We’ll just discuss backhand today, but the principle applies to forehand technique as well.

Notice how Flash’s body is arched to match the angle of the disc, creating a consistent arc that starts at pull back and lasts all the way through the follow-through.

First of all, with both roller styles you’ll want to raise your release point – as you would with a big anhyzer – to get the extreme angle required. For a high tech roller you should almost be holding the disc right over your head just before release with your back arched backward. That last point is important, too, because it’s not enough to just change the angle of the nose of the disc. To get that angle to hold, you must change the entire axis of your pullback and release as well. This requires the participation of all your moving parts.

Picking a specific landing spot is the second of Flash’s keys to a consistent and accurate roller. He says that you should first understand how your disc will act once its rolling, given the type of disc you’re throwing. This is something you’ll only learn with experience. Once you’ve learned the disc, you’ll be able to properly adjust the angle and speed required to get it to do what you want. With the knowledge  at the ready, you can make the task much simpler by focusing on the spot where the disc first hits the ground rather than the entire path you expect it to travel. In other words, it much simpler to aim for a spot 40-100 feet in front of you and make the disc land in a five-foot square at the right angle than to aim for a spot 400 feet away. Roller shots are inherently unpredictable, anyway, so it makes sense to focus on the flight (the part you can control) rather than the roll.

Dependable rollers require lots of trial and error, and then practice, practice, practice. When you’re serious about adding this shot to your bag head out to a big wide open field so you can see what various discs will do from beginning to end.  And remember Flash’s advice and focus on your angle of release and your landing zone.

Jack Trageser is the founder of School of Disc Golf and the instructional writer at RattlingChains.com. You can reach him at jack@schoolofdiscgolf.com.