(Or, Terning the tide)
by Dan Laitsch
Very seldom has a disc actually realized the hype surrounding it. Case in point, the fabled
Quarter K by DiscWing. The quarter K was going to revolutionize the sport by using technology to design a state-of-the-art disc that would add distance to everyone’s game. Why do they call it Quarter K? Because you’ll be able to throw it a quarter of a kilometer (or 820 feet). While nobody really thought we’d all be able to throw that far, we were all lining up to try it, which is what makes the Tern all the more interesting.
The Tern is a newer disc from Innova that has quietly slipped into the market place with almost no hype, yet is taking those in-the-know by storm. The Tern showed up on courses and in stores–billed as a high speed easy to turn disc, ideal for a long-range roller or as a straight flyer for lighter arms. According to Innova, the Tern has three ratings1, depending on the plastic:
(+1 to -5)
|[Champion] Metal Flake (unofficial)
While it’s been billed as great as a long range roller, it’s real strength is as a distance driver– easily surpassing my Wraiths in reliable distance.
When I first ran into the Tern last spring, I was impressed by its speed (it went fast!), but I was dismayed by its extreme flip (it went fast, in the wrong direction!). The high Glide and Turn ratings meant that the disc indeed turned radically out of my hand–an almost useless distraction from my regular long range driver (Pro or Star Wraiths).
Before I gave up on the Tern however, I threw one on a steep hyzer edge (outside edge of the disc dropped down), and watched, stunned, as the disc quickly popped up and ran on a straight line until, some 400+ feet away, it slowed down and faded back to the right (I’m a lefty, remember, so this is a natural fade for me). A little more field work to fine tune my throw and the Tern has replaced the Wraith as my go-to max-range driver.
That said, while the Tern is a great disc, it’s one that you do need to take the time to get-to-know. It’s a fickle disc because of its flippiness, especially if you tend to throw your drives flat and with a lot of snap (or spin). To get the most out of it, you need to be comfortable throwing discs on a hyzer edge and letting them stand up and fly straight. I like to compare the Tern to a Roadrunner or Sidewinder on steroids. As a result, for the Tern to be most effective, you also need a clear left or right fairway–if you only have a straight shot, the Tern is going to move side to side too much to be effective. Finally, to get the best flight path out of the disc, it needs the high speed spin, which means you need to be throwing it hard (and consequently, far). When I throw the disc “softer,” it loses the long stand up and fly straight flight path, and then tends to hyzer out early.
I’ve also been experimenting with the disc for long range anhyzer bombs (where the outside edge is flipped up so that the disc loops out on a long range flight curve that is the opposite of my normal throw). While it hasn’t replaced my Roadrunner for that throw yet, I can see its potential, particularly over long distances.
The Tern is a great new distance disc–I’ve heard it described by many players as a game changer for the added distance it provides. Because of the extreme speed, glide, and turn ratings, with a reliable fade, the disc is also versatile. I’ve stepped up to long holes where both lefties and righties were throwing the Tern. While it is a wide-rim disc (as most high speed drivers are) it has less width than many–more like a Wraith than a Boss. If you haven’t tried it yet, its worth taking to a field and hucking–it could very well be the game changer you’ve been looking for!
1 Speed is a proxy for distance–the higher the speed, the better the disc will fly through the air and the farther it will go. Glide is the ability of the disc to sustain flight–the more glide the farther the disc will fly. Turn is the extent to which a disc will “flip” or bank away from the natural turn or hyzer (for righty backhands, the natural hyzer means turning left; for lefty back hands, the natural hyzer means turning right). Discs with strong high speed turn ratings will get a nice “s” curve to them and you’ll get extra distance. Finally Fade refers to the disc’s behavior at the end of its flight as the spin speed falls off. All discs will fall back to the natural curve at the end of their flight–discs with high Fade will fall off the most at the end of their flight.