It may seem like a game of chance, but played properly, darts is a game
of skill and calculation. If you love puzzles and you're willing to practice
a skill until you've got it beat, darts may be the sport for you.
The game of darts is played in dozens of countries including Denmark, Japan,
Scotland, Sweden, Jamaica and England, where it is enormously popular.
Darts has its roots in the ancient sport of archery, but the game as we
know it dates back to the late 1800s. Darts was so popular in the pubs of
England that in 1938, there was an "all darts" saloon in London that offered
rows and rows of dartboards for play.
These are the rules that govern the size of darts and boards:
- Darts can be no more than 12 inches long and weigh no more than
1.8 ounces. The needlepoint must be attached to a flighted shaft (flighted
refers to the wings at the back of a dart).
- Darts come in three basic shapes: torpedo, which has its weight
in the front; straight-barrelled, with its weight evenly spread; and centre-weight
- "Flights" are the wings at the back of a dart. They can be made
of plastic or real turkey feathers. It takes two turkeys to make the flights
for one set of darts.
- Boards are generally round with rings for scoring. There is
a bull's-eye in the center and a set of spokes going out from the center to
mark the scoring areas. Clock, Yorkshire, Black Irish and Snooker are all
types of dartboards.
- Boards can be made of cork, wood, Plasticine or bristle board.
British dart slang:
Dosser -- the bull's-eye
Mugs Away -- losers go first
Front Room -- a very close match
Bed and Breakfast -- 26 points, which is a bad score
A good set of darts runs from $20 to $50. Tungsten darts are the most expensive.
"O1" is a classic game that is played all over the world. The name comes
from the starting point score, which always ends in 01, such as 501, 301 or
Unlike most games, you start with points and attempt to lose them. The
first person to zero wins. Players throw three darts each and subtract their
score from their beginning score. To win, you must reach zero exactly.
A "double" is point value that is located in the ring second from the outer
edge on a dartboard. Hitting this spot doubles the point value of that section.
In most games you must score a double on your last throw to win.
Darts that bounce off the board or miss do not score and can't be thrown
again in that turn.
Darting is a mathematical game. You need to be able to calculate the best
combination of numbers and recalculate if you hit the wrong spot. Because
of the intricate rules, getting a bull's-eye every shot won't make you a winner.
- Stand up straight at the throw line. People think it helps to
lean closer to the board, but actually it throws you off center and is bad
for your back in the long run.
- Keep both feet on the floor when you throw. Many people want
to lift their back foot as people do in bowling. You do want to follow through
with your arm.
- Hold the dart level and pointed at the board. Accuracy is based
on using a precise movement every time. This isn't the place for fancy tricks.
- Throw firmly but not too hard. If you think the
dart is a baseball, you risk breaking the dart and the board. Throwing too
hard can also be dangerous because you won't have good control of the dart.
Dart leagues can be found all over the world. There are leagues for women,
men, kids, beginners and advanced. Choose one that works for you. You'll not
only learn the sport, you'll make some great new friends.
When you belong to a team, you will be asked to join a dart association.
The dues are no more than $25. The team itself may charge a fee to pay for
trophies, score sheets and other items.
Although darts are often associated with bars and pubs (especially in England),
that doesn't mean you have to be a certain age to play. There are plenty of
darters who play at school or a local clubhouse.
If you can see the board and control your arm muscles, you can play darts.
With a little practice you may find that the only "handicapped" people are
the ones who don't practice.
American Darters Association
310-1000 Lake Saint Louis Blvd.
Lake Saint Louis
New Jersey Darts
Information about tournaments in the state
Tournament Darts International
Check out their Rogues Gallery of championship darters
World Darts Federation - Playing and Tournament Rules
Learn the rules of the game
American Darts Organization - Links
Find a club near you