* Prices may differ from that shown
A few years back I went through a bit of a darts phase - a period of my life where I took the popular pub 'activity' (I don't really like to call darts a 'sport') far more seriously than I probably should have. Although I only play occasionally these days, I still own a range of darts equipment, and have an infrequent chuck of the ol' arrows. It should be pointed out that darts is an inexpensive sport to get involved with - the equipment is generally cheap, and once you make your initial outlay you'll only have to commit to the occasional purchase when the odd flight needs replacing. Also, you don't need a lot of space to play darts - just a room which is at least eight foot in length without any low hanging lights in the flight path. It's best to play in a carpeted environment - as repairing damage to a wooden or laminate floor can be costly - similarly, playing across a tiled floor is risky, as chips and cracks will be commonplace when the darts bounce-back from the board (an all too frequent phenomenon).
Choosing a dartboard
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In terms of the dartboard, the brand Winmau is arguably regarded as the most respected in the game - their range of bristle boards are second to none. You can currently purchase an entire Winmau dart set (board, surround, & darts) for £41 from amazon.co.uk - a price which I feel represents decent value for money. That said, other makes such as 'Unicorn' also produce a range of quality rival products - their complete set comes to a slightly more costly £47. Cheaper boards from little known makes are best avoided, as the saying "you get what you pay for" usually rings true in the world of darts - I once owned a board which I picked up for only a few quid on eBay, and it didn't have an especially good lifespan. At this stage, I should probably explain that the 'bristle' board is the commonest form of board that you will encounter - they're constructed from a series of tightly compressed fibres, and last much longer than the card-based boards that can potentially become riddled with holes within a few weeks. Features you should look out for in your dartboard includes diamond cut wire, which is a system of high tensile triangular shaped separating metal between the numbers, designed to prevent bounce-back.
Choosing your darts
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The darts themselves are broken down into three distinct parts; the tip, the shaft, and the flight - in this section i'll take a closer look at each aforementioned component whilst explaining their function. Firstly, the type of dart tip that you choose will depend on your personal preference. Tips can be made from a variety of metals, although the most common ones are steel, nickel, tungsten, and brass. Steel tips are strong and hardwearing, as are the tungsten ones - however brass tipped darts are softer and can blunt quickly. That said, some of my favourite darts have been of the brass tipped variety - one particular set were lovely and chunky, weighty, and beautifully balanced. Speaking of balance, the shaft of the dart plays an important part of creating the overall feel. It's important not just to buy the shaft on its own merit - it needs to be tested alongside your tip in order to achieve a correctly weighted arrow. Shafts are often of plastic construction, although aluminium ones are common too. I prefer to use plastic shafts, mainly due to their durability, as i've had a number of aluminium shafts which have become fairly brittle and snapped after a few months. In terms of their price, shafts can cost anything from 99p to around £15, although i've found that the ones in the region of £3 and under are perfectly acceptable.
A dart's flight is the plastic end section which slots into back of the shaft and allows the dart to fly straight. Flights can split over time, usually at the section which sits into the shaft, meaning that replacement purchases can be commonplace. Luckily, flights are easy to get hold of and cheap to buy - generally under £4, and rarely exceeding £6. Here you can have a bit of fun with your purchase and choose a design which reflects your personality. Local sports shops always seem to stock a wide range of flights, whilst if you're buying online, Amazon is a decent place to start looking. I personally like to use a fairly plain pattern as I find the over elaborate ones a little distracting - however, many darts players enjoy using a design which includes the badge of their favourite football club, or a cool holographic logo.
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Overall, choosing the correct darts equipment is an important part of becoming a good darts player. A nicely balanced set of darts can really make the difference to one's game, whilst investing in a decent board to begin with will ultimately save you money in the long run. In terms of additional equipment - well, a dart sharpener may well come in handy if you take the 'sport' seriously - these little grinding blocks cost only a few quid and are easy to use. At the end of the day, you shouldn't be afraid to experiment with a range of tip and shaft combinations before you settle on your favourite darts - and it can be good practice to learn to play with differently weighted darts too.
I have just recently got my first darts board. It cost me £30 and came complete with a case and two sets of darts. I have not stopped playing! I play it pretty much every time a have a friend round and it is a great social piece for party's and gatherings and it is fun for all of the family!
My board is the Winmau Diamond. It is a regular board. It is made of bristles like most of the best dartboards. Most dartboards are make of bristles because it means the dart can easily stick into it and not leave a hole when taken out. There is also electronic dart boards. These are dartboards where the darts are the same but their tips are soft plastic and bounce off the board. Electronic dart boards add and minus your scores for you but are not as accurate as regular boards. The also do not look as good. (In my opinion!) The boards are also quite easy to put up onto a wall. All you need is a nail in the wall and most boards come with a simple bracket on the back.
Darts for regular dart boards are metal with plastic tails and flights. They vary in weight and they flights come in a variety of different colors and patterns. Soft tip darts are exactly the same but the tips are soft rubber , not steel. The problem with the metal tip darts is the fact that they are sharp metal! The are dangerous and can leave holes in your wall if you miss a lot. My dart board came with a cabinet. The cabinet is completely covered with scratches and holes. If it wasn't there it would be my wall covered with holes so I would definatley recommend getting a case or a surround which are large plastic rings that go around the board to protect the wall.
***How To Play Darts***
Darts is a simple game but is great fun for everyone. It is normally played 1 vs. 1 but can be played in teams. The aim is to get your score (which starts at a set score which can vary E.G 202 , 302 etc) down to 0. This can be done in many ways but this review is about darts equipment , not darts rules. I will write about darts in more detail in another review.
Overall , I would recommend darts for everyone of all ages and abilities. It is a inexpensive , fun activity which is loved by many people!
Darts has to be the cheapest sport there is going. For a minimal price you can get yourself all the equipment you need. Although some people would argue that darts is not a real sport, when you see the following the sport has and the reputation of players such as Phil Taylor, it's easy to see that the world of darts is not to be taken lightly. Top players can earn millions each year playing the sport and it really is a sport on the up. So if you do fancy getting into darts, what kind of equipment do you need and how much will it cost you?
Dartboard - You can't play darts without a dartboard. This is the most expensive piece of kit but is still quite reasonable. You can pick up a basic dartboard for as little as £9.99, but as with all things you get what you pay for. If you want a nice dartboard that is good quality and will last you along time you are probably looking at closer to £50. For this amount you can get one with a nice surround that will have doors on that you can close. The board will be of a good standard and will stay in good condition. When it comes to darts equipment, Harrows is a name you can trust. Look for this brand and you should get decent quality.
Darts - Another obvious thing you need is a set of darts. There are many different varieties of darts which come in different weights and lengths. The best way to decide what kind of dart is best for you is to try a few out. A decent set of darts will usually cost you around £10, some are a little more expensive depending upon the quality you go for. Most dart sets that you buy come with a handy little case which allows you to carry them around very easily. If you are trying to get your children into playing darts you can even buy special soft tip ones, which are made from strong plastic, they will still stick in a dart board but they are not sharp and dangerous.
Flights - When it comes to dart flights there really is an unbelievable amount of choice out there. A set of three dart flights will only cost you around £1, sometimes even less, so you can get yourself a few different ones. There are so many different designs and shapes to choose from. There are sites online that specialise in dart flights and give you thousands to choose from. Having fun with different dart flights can really liven up the game for you.
Other Bits & Bobs - Realistically you don't need anything else to play darts. However you may like to buy a darts sharpener, these only cost around £1 and will keep your tips sharp and make sure they stay in the board. Some people buy a darts ocky, this is simply a mat which tells you how far from the board you should be standing, you can pick one of these up for around £10. Some people also like to buy score boards, this range from a simple black board to electronic ones that calculate your score for you.
If you are looking to start playing darts then it really is a good easy sport to get into. With equipment being so cheap it really is something you can give a try without having to worry about money. Darts is a great sport and one that is loved my many people, pick up a set of darts and get throwing.
Are you a bit on the chubby side? (Long time since you saw your willy without bending over?)
Do you have a number of gaudy short sleeved shirts?
Are you fond of a pint or seventeen?
Yes to all three? Well, my friend, you could become a darts player, innit?
OK - anyone can play, I suppose, but for a long time darts has suffered this stereotypical image and many people scoff when they hear it termed as a sport, since the energy levels involved are minimal. It has traditionally been a man's game, but girls can play too and don't need to take the willy test.
Whatever your view on whether it is a sport or a game, what cannot be argued though is that there are a number of very good darts players out there and it does seem to be one of those games where everyone has a basic ability which can be improved and honed with practice. Given the extent to which the game is now marketed and promoted, at the very highest level it is possible to earn significant amounts of money.
So what do you need to get started? Well, no surprises here - you need a set of 3 darts and a dartboard. There are other bits of paraphernalia that you see darts players carry around, from fancy cases to darts sharpeners to extra flights - different ones for different conditions etc.
The dartboard is the easy bit. You should ensure that if you are going to put in meaningful practice that the dartboard is a good quality bristle board mounted at the right height and that the distance from which you throw is also as laid down in the regulations. No point in being an absolute demon in your garage if your throw goes all to cock in front of your mates down the pub.
There is now a huge variety of different dart and flight configurations from which to choose. By natural inclination, you will favour either light or heavy darts. Heavier ones often have more of the weight towards the front (bombers we used to call them) and when thrown will follow a different trajectory to lighter darts. The speed of the throw will also affect trajectory.
The flights are largely a matter of personal choice. I am sure you will hear serious darts players favour one type or the other and then rationalise this choice. To me, however, an erstwhile amateur darts player, the main thing is to select darts which feel comfortable in your hand whether they have a thick or thin barrel and which go roughly where you expect them to go when you throw them. After that, it is just technique and practice, practice and practice. If ultimately you don't improve over time, it may be down to your darts in which case try a different set, but it is more likely to be your technique, whether it be weight distribution, release, wrist action (keep practising your wrist action, boys), so don't be afraid to ask the view of other players who have the advantage of seeing you throw and can offer constructive criticism or unrelenting teasing and abuse depending on the company you keep.
In order to be consistently successful at darts you need to be able to finish. In a standard game of 501 this means being able to throw a double. Throwing doubles needs a lot of practice as does counting backwards from 501 and calculating which particular combination of scores will win you the game in the lowest number of throws or at least a lower number than that thrown by your opponent. The Holy Grail in the darts world is a 9 dart finish, obtained by throwing two consecutive treble twenties (360) and then scoring the remaining 141 with a treble twenty, treble nineteen and double 12 (other combinations are available, such as treble eighteen, treble seventeen and double eighteen - work out the other combinations for yourself - there are quite a few!)
Darts is good fun and doesn't have to be played in the pub. It's a very social game though and the pub is a good place to start - that's for as long as we still have pubs and folk can afford to drink in them!
I grew up as a lad loving the game of darts, and would spend hours watching the likes of Jocky Wilson and Eric Bristow (the crafty cockney) on TV, often pleading with my parents to let me have a dart board for Christmas or my next birthday, but always getting told I was too young, and it is dangerous!
At about the age of 13 I did get my first dart board, and I used it regularly, playing against the family, and friends, and I never really tired of it for about the next 3 years.
When I got my first house about 5 years ago, my brother got me a dart board as a house warming present, much to the disappointment of my wife!!
Luckily for her, I have it set up in my garage, and I often take myself off into there for a quick practice in the evening, to let her watch the soaps in piece.
What is Darts?
Darts is basically a throwing game, which consists of a round board, with 20 different numbering sections, separated by wire, and randomly positioned around the board ranging from 1 point to 20 points, all of which have an area for the double points zone, and treble points zone, and at the centre of the board there is the 'outer bull' (worth 25 points), and the 'bull' (worth 50 points).
To score points from these areas of the board, 'darts' are thrown at the board, and aimed at particular point scoring areas. Darts are like a little spear with a sharp pointed end which will stick into the board (hence why my mum said it was too dangerous as a child). At the middle of the dart there is a metal weighted area which is the part of the dart that you grip onto when throwing, and at the other end is the plastic flight which helps it to glide evenly through the air.
***** Cost and availability of a darts and accessories *****
Darts is not an expensive hobby at all, unless perhaps you were to become part of a pub team, which would probably involve costs associated with fees, travelling, and copious amounts of beer at each game!
For anyone wanting to have their own board at home, it is very cheap indeed, and doesn't require a lot of room either. A decent dart board complete package can be picked up for about £25 from somewhere like Argos, and will consist of a dart board positioned in a black wooden cabinet with doors which fold open to reveal the dart board. These doors when opened out are used to keep the players scores on for each game played, by writing on them with a non permanent board marker, or more commonly a white piece of chalk.
Also included would be 2 sets of darts (3 darts in a set), and sometimes an oche - which is used to mark the place on the floor that the players must stand behind when throwing the darts. If buying the equipment separately, a cheap dart board (without the cabinet) would be about £10 - £15, with each set of darts costing about £5 each.
***** Set-up of a dart board *****
As stated above, darts is a fairly cheap hobby to have, and can be played in a small area if required. When I had my first dart board, it did not come with the cabinet, and so I just had it hung on the back of my bedroom door. The cabinet is really useful to have though, as it not only gives you a great area to display the scores on, but it also protects the nearby area from wayward darts which would otherwise make tiny holes in the door / walls.
A standard dart board should officially be hung so that the centre of the board (the bull) is 173 cm from the floor. The throwing line, or the 'oche' is set at 237 cm horizontally from the face of the dart board.
***** Different dart games *****
Darts is a very versatile game, and as such there are a whole host of games that can be played on the dart board. The most famous of which is 501. The idea of this game is that both players start on 501, and each time they score, that score is deducted from 501, so for example if a player manages to score the highest possible dart score of 180 ( 3 triple 20's) they would then be on 321. This keeps going until it is possible for a player to finish on a double, so if the player is down to 40 left, they need to hit double 20 to win that game. This is extremely difficult to do, and most times I always end up struggling on until I eventually manage to get double 1!!!
Other games include 301 (similar to 501), killer, cricket, around the clock, doubles and trebles, and shaghai, but as I mentioned earlier darts is so versatile that you can make up your own games, by modifying little things such as playing left handed (assuming all players are usually right handed), or standing from various distances to throw the darts.
Overall I think darts is a great game, and I really enjoy playing in my garage, either alone or with friends. It is a simple game, which is very competitive, and it does involve a lot of head mathematics to keep on top of the scores. It is cheap to buy with a whole set starting at around £25, and will keep people of all ages out of mischief for hours on end. Lots of the games can be modified to suit the players, and also most games can be played as team games if more than two people want to play at the same time.
One day I would love to go and watch a live darts event such as premier league darts, or the world professional championships which will be starting over the Christmas period. I have watched darts for years, and would really like to finally get round to going to somewhere like the lakeside to watch it live. The atmosphere looks awesome, and everyone seems to have a great time.
Some key figures:
Top score available with 3 darts is 180
Fewest number of darts required to complete a 501 is 9 darts
Highest possible check out is 170
I have never managed any of these!!!!
Thanks for reading.
© L500589 2010
The equipment for darts is pretty basic really. There are a few key things you need in order to play, however once you have got them you are away.
The first thing you need is a Dartboard, these come in various prices however, they all do pretty much the same job. However I would suggest getting a board which has a wodden cupboard around it as you can then write down the scores as you are going along.
Secondly you need a set of darts, these also come in a range of prices, however the darts themselves come in a variety of different sizes. A good set of darts tends to be made out of tungsten and are all exactly the same weight, they tend to weigh around 22g to 27g; depending on your own personal choice.
Finally and this isn't neccessarly equipment but you need to know how far to stand away from the board, and in the professional leagues they stand 236.855cm (7 feet 91/4 inches) from the board with the board being 172.72cm (5 feet 8inches)from the center of the bull to the ground.