Darts is a sport where small pointy missiles known as darts are thrown at a circular target (dartboard) which is fixed to a wall. Through the years, a lot of different boards were used. However, at the moment, when it comes to professional play, there is only one type of dartboard that’s being used. There are special rules meant to guide the game as well.

Darts Intro
Welcome to Darts

As well as being a professional competitive game, darts is a traditional pub game, commonly played in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, across the Commonwealth. It’s also played in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the Scandinavian countries, the United States, Australia and elsewhere.

Darts History

It is believed that darts might have appeared from a simple tree which was used as a target. An old name for dartboard is “butt” which derived from the French word “but” meaning target. On the other hand, the sport that we know today came to be around the end of the 19th century. Lancashire carpenter Brian Gablin is believed to have been the first person to use a board with the 20 at the top.

In the following years a lot of different boards were used. Some had just the doubles and bullseye while other had different numbering sequences. At the start when darts were used exclusively in pubs in the United Kingdom, the dartboards were made from wood. This created a problem because with time the wood would break and then a new board was needed.


In 1935, chemist Ted Leggatt and pub owner Frank Dabbs began using the century plant, a type of agave, to make dartboards. Small bundles of sisal fibres of the same length were bundled together. The bundles were then compressed into a disk and bound with a metal ring. It was an instant success, as the darts did little or no damage to the board—they just parted the fibers when they entered the board; this type of board was more durable and required little maintenance.

The next change came in modern times when electronic boards were built. They are made from plastic and have small holes where the darts are supposed to hit. The points are counted automatically on these electronic dartboards.

Darts Rules and Regulations

The missiles that are also called darts have four parts: the points, the flights, the shafts, and the barrels. The points come in 2 common lengths, 32mm and 41mm and are sometimes knurled or coated to improve grip. Others are designed to retract slightly on impact to lessen the chance of bouncing out.

Dartboard & Darts

When it comes to the other parts, they come in various versions. However, in professional play, they have to be under the regulations of the tournament. Besides the darts, the board needs to follow certain rules. The place where it’s placed or hanged is also very important.

Playing Dimensions

Height – the dart board is hung so that the center of the bulls eye is 1.73 m (5 ft 8 inches) from the floor. This is considered eye-level for a six-foot person.

Distance – the oche (line behind which the thrower must stand) should be 2.37 m (7 ft 9¼ inches) from the face of the board. If the face projects outward from the wall, due to the thickness of the board and/or a cabinet in which it is mounted, the oche must be moved back appropriately to maintain the required distance.

The regulations came about due to the United Kingdom and the rest of the world playing at different lengths, with 2.37 m (7 ft 9¼ inches) being the compromise length.


Winning the game is just as important as playing the game. When it comes to darts, it’s all about collecting the most points. The dartboard has 20 numbered fields, from 1 to 20. Each number has it’s own field which is divided in three parts. The regular part gets you points equal to the number on that field. The outer parts of the field give you double the points value of that field. The small inner part, on the other hand, triples the points.

The bullseye in the middle of the board has two parts. The outer circle gives 25 points while the inner small circle is worth 50. In professional darts, players take turns and throw the missiles at the board. Each turn, you get 3 darts to throw at the board. The idea is to try and hit the place that would give you 3 x 20 points. That makes the maximum points that can be earned per turn is 180. The winner is the player that has the most points at the end of all the turns.

Organisations and Tournaments

When it comes to darts, the organisations are divided into professional and amateur leagues. There are two main professional organisations. The first one is the British Darts Organisation (BDO) which was founded in 1973. The other one is known as the World Darts Federation (WDF) and it was founded in 1976. Additionally, there are groups that broke from BDO to create their own organisations However, WDF is the one that organizes the most important tournaments like the World Championships. To learn more about them, check their official website.

WDF Darts Logo
WDF Logo
BDO Logo
BDO Logo

In amateur play, the American Darts Organization (ADO) is the one who controls the tournaments. They are in charge of all the rules and regulations. This organisation started in 1976 and even though its amateur, it holds over 50 000 members.

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