Darts is one competitive sport that we all have heard of but chances are, most of us are not very aware of what it actually is. Through its presence in bars, pubs, and clubs, darts made its appearance as one of the most favored indoor sports and gradually became competitive and currently is played on both amateur and professional levels, with multiple governing bodies organizing championships across the world.
The history and equipment
A standard darts target, or dartboard, consists of numbers from 1 to 20, arranged in twenty radial sections, along with two Rings- the Double Ring and the Triple Ring. The center of the dartboard has the Bullseye, which is also split into Outer and Inner Bullseye. The well-known circular pattern of dartboards is inspired by the concentric rings of a section of tree trunks, which is also believed to be the earliest dartboards.
There have been many different configurations of dartboards, but the standard pattern is credited to Brian Gamlin, a carpenter from Lancashire who came up with the pattern in 1896 and is speculated to penalize accuracy. There are also variations on how the numbers are placed on the dartboard, with many combinations penalizing a player more than the standard system. A dartboard has to be 451 mm in diameter in accordance with the Darts Regulation Authority.
Before the emergence of purpose-made darts, the game was played using stubs of arrows or crossbow bolts. However, the first darts specific for the game was made of wood, with a strip of led as weight and flights made from split turkey feathers. In 1906, metal barrels were patented and were made from brass which was cheaper to manufacture and were used until the 1970s, when they were slowly replaced by plastic darts. Plastic darts were made by either manufacturing the shaft and flight separately, or together by using a one-piece molded plastic shaft and flight darts.
Scoring in darts
- Hitting a large portion of any numbered sections, coloured in either black or white, scores the point value of that particular section.
- Hitting the outer portions of the numbered sections, coloured either red or green, scores double the point value of that particular section.
- Hitting the inner portions of the numbered sections, coloured either red or green, scores double the point value of that particular section.
- The centre of the dartboard consists of a green outer ring termed ‘outer bull’ and is worth 25 points, and a red or black inner circle which is termed the ‘inner bull’ and is worth 50 points.
- Any dart hitting outside the outer wire scores zero.
- The highest a player can score with three darts is 180, also called a ‘ton 80’, when all three darts hit the inner portion of the 20 section, also called the ‘triple 20’.
Amateur and professional darts
The organizations in darts are split into two, steel-tip and soft-tip. In 1973, the British Darts Organisation (BDO) was founded, which hosted tournaments in the UK and was a member org of World Darts Federation (WDF). However, in 1992, a group of players decided to part ways with the BDO to aim for higher paydays and founded the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), which hosts tournaments and world championships.
In the case of soft-tip, World Soft Darts Association acts as a governing body and its events feature both soft-tip exclusive players, as well as steel-tip players.
In the United States, amateur darts leagues and tournaments and conduted and sanctioned under the American Darts Organization which became active on 1st January 1976 and currently has 250 member clubs and around 50,000 players.
In 1978, Welsh player Leighton Rees became the first WPD/BPO winner. Former English professional player Phil Taylor, nicknamed ‘The Power’ has been the most dominant player in the sport. The 61-year-old has won an astounding 214 professional tournaments, including 16 World Championships (2 BDO, 14 PDC) and 85 major titles. Trina Gulliver is the most successful female darts player who has been the BDO’s Women’s World Professional Darts Champion ten times.