The dartboards used today are divided into twenty equal sections. Circular-shaped wires divide each numbered section into single, double, or triple sections. In the 1970s, there was a board used that did not feature a triple section. This board was known as a Yorkshire board. Another form of board used was known as The Fives board. No matter the type of board used, different colors sub-divide the board even further and will alternate section by section. Hitting the larger black or white sections of the board will score a single of the corresponding number for that section. Hitting the alternating red or green sections in the inner narrow triple ring will score triple of the corresponding number for that section. Hitting the alternating red or green sections in the outer narrow double ring will score double of the corresponding number for that section. The inner section or center of the board, known as the bulls-eye, is divided into two sections. The outer section, known as the outer bull, scores a total of 25 points per dart and the inner section, known as the center bull or double bull, scores a total of 50 points per dart. Although not used in everyday competitions, manufacturers have also created what is known as a “quad” board, which features an additional quad ring between the triple ring and the bulls-eye and each dart that lands in this section will score quadruple of the corresponding number for that section. Any darts that bounce out of the board during play or any darts that land outside of the outer double ring do not count, no score is given for those darts, and they cannot be re-thrown during the turn. If you dart lodges itself loosely in the board and drops out after the next darts hit the board, this dart does not count for score, as well. If a player hits the other darts and causes the dart throw to be held in place by the other two darts in the board, this dart will only be scored if the point is touching the scoring surface.
Dartboards can be placed pretty much anywhere these days, as they only require the placement of a small wall-mounted bracket. When considering placement of your dartboard, there are a few details that should not be overlooked. It is recommended that you have a clear walking path to and from the board with no clutter or obstacles in your way and it should also be a low-traffic area. Because there is the danger of the darts bouncing off wires or falling out of the board, it is imperative that no items are placed around or below the dartboard and that you avoid them hitting a tile floor or hard surface, as this could cause irreparable damage to the darts. Carpeting or some type of dart mat that you can roll out is highly recommended if your floor is not already carpeted. Also remember that darts will stick in wooden floors and the points can also cause some chips in your tile. While the mounting bracket for a board can be placed directly onto a wall, it is recommended that new players place some sort of background behind or around the board to ensure that should a player miss the board entirely, you will avoid having holes poked into your wall. It is also important to be as thorough and precise as possible when hanging your dartboard. While being off an eighth of an inch may not seem significant, consideration must be given to the dartboard itself. Since the width of a wire between a winning or losing shot can come down to mere millimeters, being off an eighth of an inch in the height of your dartboard can also mean an eighth of an inch difference in what you hope to be your game-winning shot, which can then result in a miss and cost you the game.
For many years in the beginning of darts, the throwing distance varied from area to area and event to event. Some would be played at the 8’ line, while others would play at 7’ 6”. Eventually, the World Dart Federation put together all the different distances and came out with the average throwing distance of 7’ 9¼”, which is now the universal distance used globally and was calculated using the Pythagorean theorem, a² + b² = c². This distance, however, does not apply to the electronic dart game, as the distance for this started at 8’ and remains the same to this day. To set up your dartboard, the official throwing distance to use is 7’ 9¼”. The height of the board from the floor to the center of the bull is 5’ 8”. The diagonal distance from the center of the bull to front of the throw line is 9’ 73/8”.
Dartboard manufacturing has improved throughout the years. Before the First World War, pubs in the United Kingdom had dartboards made from solid blocks of wood, usually elm. The elm then had to be soaked overnight to heal the holes made by the darts, which was messy and smelly. A company called Nodor created the “no odor” board using sisal for the fabrication. Boards today continue to be manufactured using sisal. Sisal is a fiber normally used to make rope. The manufacturing and the grooming of the sisal is a tedious process, and once it is cut into chunks, called “biscuits,” it is then ready to be used in the fabrication of a dartboard. The outer steel band is placed, and then filled with the sisal biscuits. The amount of biscuits used controls the hardness or softness of the board itself. Once placed into the steel band, the biscuits are covered in glue on one side and placed onto the round wooden backboard. The next step in the process is to compress the sisal into a perfectly round shape. The sisal and board are then put through a machine to smooth them out for the colors to be printed onto the surface. The use of sisal was a great success; when the darts stuck into the board, it caused little or no damage, as the sisal fibers would separate to allow the dart to lodge itself between the fibers and the sisal would close and fill the hole once the dart was removed. A regulation board is 17 3⁄4 inches in diameter and is divided into twenty radial sections. The wires are then placed or the blade system is inserted. In older or less expensive boards, traditional round wires are used; however, in today’s market, the use of a blade system is more popular among the players. The blade system reduces bounce-outs of the darts and allows for a maximum scoring surface. It has been said that the new blade system used in dartboards today has accounted for the increase in players-per-dart average because the scoring surface has been increased.
Don’t forget to leave yourself space for a scoreboard. There are many different sizes and varieties of scoreboards available on the market that range from ones that use chalk, grease pens, or dry erase markers. Obviously, the larger the scoreboard, the better visibility players will have for scoring the match. There are many electronic scoreboards available on the market today, as well, that are equipped to function in whatever game you choose to play, whether it be 301, 501, or cricket. Some may even be pre-programmed so you are able to compete against the computer. There is a new program on the market as well called DartConnect, which you can download to your laptop or tablet and use the program to keep score in live games, or play against other players online.
Most people would not consider out charts to be a form of gear to be considered when getting yourself set up to play darts, but as you grow as a player, it is a fundamental component to your key to success in the 301 and 501 games. I recommend that every player obtain an out chart whenever they purchase darts and a dartboard. Many players consider it very intimidating because it then involves math, but knowing your out-shot combinations will boost your confidence and your game to a higher level. There are many variations available that include many different out-shot combinations.
American Darts, or “widdy” darts, is a variation of the traditional English darts game and is played mostly in the eastern parts of the United States around Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, parts of New York State and Delaware, and as far south as Maryland; however, it’s grass roots come from the coal mining towns of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
The American dartboard is made of basswood and the better-quality boards will have a center that rotates so that the board will wear in a more even manner. There are thin metal wires imbedded into the board to separate the sections of the board for scoring. The scoring surface itself is slightly different than traditional English dart boards, as there is only one bull and the triple ring is on the outer edge and the double ring is just inside the triple ring. The rest for the board is a scoring surface for single points.
The numeric sequence is the same as a traditional English board, however, the height of the board and distance thrown are much different. The center of the bull is at 5’ 3” and the distance from the face of the board diagonally to the throwing line is 7’ 3”. The darts used are the traditional “widdy” darts with wooden barrels. These barrels are fletched with turkey feather flights glued into place, the darts are 5¾ inches long, and they weigh anywhere from 12 to 14 grams. There is a metal tip section that is bored into the end of the wooden barrel and a weight is inserted into the barrel to move the balance of the dart more to the center.