What You Need To Know To Set Up and Play

bristle dartboardI’ve been avoiding doing this post as you can read it on a million other dartboard sites, but I have a good friend who has just started playing and she’s been bugging me about setting up a dartboard at home. So this one is for you, Michelle.

To start, there is some basic equipment you require: darts (at least three), a dartboard, a wall to hang it on, something to protect said wall from deviant darts, and something to write scores upon. Also, you might want to have some tools handy for mounting your dartboard, but putting holes in your walls is beyond the scope of this article, and I don’t want to write an article about patching up drywall in the future.

To The Point – Darts

The sharp pointy things you throw at the dartboard are called darts. They are also called arrows (pronounced ‘arras), or sometimes nails. Dart bodies are made from a variety of materials, the most common being brass. These have the advantage of being cheap, and are great for beginners, but are often bulky and do not have much weight to them. Although brass clunkers do the job, you might want to change to a dart made of tungsten-alloy in the future, as it is a much denser material, meaning more weight in a more slender dart. Darts also come in different weights, and finding a weight perfect for you can be trial and error, so don’t be shy about asking your dart buddies about their darts, and asking if you can throw them a few times. If you are still unsure about what weight to pick, aim for around 24 grams as it’s sort of a middle number.

One other thing I always recommend you have is a few spare sets of shafts and flights. These are the replaceable parts at the back of the darts that give the dart its lift in flight. Experiment with different shaft lengths and flight shapes to help tune your dart to suit your throw. As a rule of thumb, the longer the dart, the smaller the flight surface area required.

Everyone throws darts a little bit differently, so there is no right or wrong way to throw them. There are some pointers you should follow, though, to minimize the number of times you miss the target. Keep both feet on the ground and don’t try an balance on one foot. Throw the dart flat, not tilted up or down; this will ensure it flies straighter. Throw the dart from the same level as your eye, and try to make it follow the path to the target you are looking at. The last thing to take note of is that you don’t have to throw the dart with all your strength.

You need at least three darts (even better if each player can have three of their own to use) as every dart game requires you to throw three darts during your turn. Do not remove your darts from the board (or wall) until you have thrown all three darts. If a dart bounces and land on the floor, you do not get to throw it again, and cannot pick it up until you have thrown all three of your darts.

Hanging the Dartboard and Protecting the Walls

Unless you are playing electronic darts, I would recommend you only use a bristle dartboard. Personally, I think if you buy the cheapest, no-name bristle dartboard on the market, it will stand up to abuse a lot better than the most expensive paper-wound dartboard. If you are stuck with a paper-wound dartboard, they are quite adequate, although you will find that the staples will become loose on the wires quickly, so keep an eye on your board or it will fall apart before you know it. Another problem I’ve noticed with the paper boards is that my darts rarely land in the bull. I mean come on, seven bounce-outs in a row?

Where do you put your dartboard apart from on the wall? Well, you need to choose a low-traffic area which no one is going to unexpectedly going to walk through, so throwing a dart past a doorway or mounting it on the back of a door is not a option! Ideally, your throwing area should extend a couple of feet on either side of the board, and be free of any obstacles from the wall to the throwing line.

It is highly recommend that you protect your walls with some kind of dart backboard or a dartboard cabinet. If you are not worried about aesthetics, this can be as simple as sticking up a sheet of scrap plywood. Your dartboard should be mounted five feet, eight inches from the center of the dartboard to the floor. A properly mounted dartboard will also be attached to the wall or backboard at the center of the board, not from the top. Special dartboard mounting brackets are available and make the job a lot easier.

When your dartboard is mounted at the correct height, you have to measure out the throw line. The official throwing distance is seven feet, nine and a quarter inches. No, it’s not weird—the quarter inch makes all the difference! This distance is measured from the face of the board to the required distance, not from the wall the board is mounted on. The best way to do this is to drop a plumb line from the center of the board and measure out from there.

Keeping Tabs on the Score

Darts is all about numbers, and what you hit is generally what you score. If you hit the outside ring, it’s a double and you get twice the points for that number. If you hit the inner ring, it’s a triple and you get the three times that number. The circle in the center gives you twenty-five points for the outside ring, and fifty points for the inner part. There are hundreds of games out there, and maybe I’ll get to some of them in future posts.

With all these numbers, you are going to need something to write on to keep track of everything. A pen and paper work fine, but it’s better to have a dart scoreboard mounted by the dartboard so it’s easier to glance at when you’re attempting a shot. Chalkboards are still the most common option, and are usually built into a cabinet. If you go that route, make sure you keep a supply of chalk handy. Also, dry erase boards make great scoreboards and eliminate all that chalk dust.

Have Fun

This is the most important part. Darts is a great game to play socially and no one likes it when I throw a hissy fit a sore loser. I hope this cover everything Michelle wants to know without being too boring.

Comments

  1. Christine St. Jean says:

    I’m an average (?) dart shooter but hoping to improve. I’ve found that reading articles such as yours help me if it is just one small bit of information I pick up. My biggest problem I know is with my stance. If you could throw some elementary bits of info on this problem my way it would be appreciated. I like the direct, no nonsense way you give information.

    Thanks. Chris

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