The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Playing Darts

When it comes to precision, darts is one of the only sports that will allow you to practice without the help of a machine or gun trigger. It is a simple sport to begin playing, but as you progress through the levels and tournaments, you’ll pick up new tricks, want new gear and constantly evolve your practice regime. And, that’s why the team here at The Hobby Kraze think it is a fantastic sport for a beginner. 

Here at The Hobby Kraze, we love to pair people with hobbies that can be flexible to suit you. So, whether you’re looking for a new sport and hobby to do at home, alone, out and about, with friends, with family or at competitions, you’ve hit the bullseye. 

Yes, we did mention that darts can be considered a fairly simple hobby for a beginner, but there is still much to learn when it comes to stance, catching air and scoring. So, have a look at what we’ll be covering in today’s article:

  1. What Even is the Game of Darts?
  2. It’s Quite a Niche Sport, Why Should You Play Popular Dart Games?
  3. How A Militant Game of Precision Darts Was Modernised by A Carpenter 
  4. The Beginner’s Guide to Darts’ Essential Shopping List
  5. Dart Throwing Tips: Grip
  6. Dart Throwing Tips: Sight and Aim
  7. Dart Throwing Tips: Posture and Stance
  8. Dart Throwing Tips: Release
  9. Getting to Know the Dart Board to Develop a Consistent Throw
  10. The Best Dart Game to Play with Friends or to Practice Precision Darts

Before we begin, there’s one small thing a member of The Hobby Kraze team wanted to let you know. If you do something right, write it down immediately. As most of darts is about personal preference, things can change as long as you’re behind the line and using regulatory equipment. You could be in the moment, hitting a perfect Shanghai or Bullseye but then forget to write down exactly what you did. Then, come the next day you’re questioning yourself and trying desperately to remember this perfect stance. 

What Even is the Game of Darts?

What Even is the Game of Darts

Ah, that ever-iconic pub game you play on a Friday with colleagues as you knock down a pint of *coke and celebrate the end of another week well worked (most of the time). 

Darts is a game whereby a player stands behind a line known as the oche. Then, using three specially designed darts, must throw each dart at a dart board directly in front of them. The key is to throw the darts in specific places over the board in order to score a certain number of points. However, this will depend solely on the types of popular dart games that are played. 

It is an indoor game that is mainly played among friends at a pub and then taken to a tournament level if the player discovers they have a knack for precision darts. Could it be you?

It’s Quite a Niche Sport, Why Should You Play Popular Dart Games?

It’s Quite a Niche Sport, Why Should You Play Popular Dart Games

When it comes down to it, there are many presumptions and misconceptions about the darts past time. For example: some believe it not to be a sport and something that only men would play.

But, that’s why we’re here bringing you the ultimate beginner’s guide to darts; we don’t just want to walk you through the basics and leave it there. In fact, darts is a sport that can be played by anyone, including little ones. 

Then, the regulation behind the past-time and competition possibilities topped with the physical exertion needed to hit the dartboard makes it, indeed, a sport.

So, why should you continue with this beginner’s guide to darts, develop a consistent throw and start to have fun with popular dart games? There’s may reasons. As it is something that can be found at any pub, there’s the chance that you don’t have to pay a penny bar for the pint. But, once you get the hang of it, you’re pretty hooked and before you know it; you’ve suddenly got yourself a set of personal darts even your mum can’t breathe on. 

But, it’s not all about the seriousness of the game, it’s more of a past time for those that play than it is a sport to rise up the rankings. So, the team here at The Hobby Kraze have put together a few of the benefits behind playing popular dart games:

  • It is a very accessible sport
  • You can play alone, with friends or with family
  • It is a very affordable past-time 
  • Aiming can help to improve hand-eye co-ordination skills
  • It’s a very sociable game so can help with getting out and making friends
  • There are communities of like-minded people who will play online games
  • It can relieve stress
  • Blanking out the rest of the world helps to relieve any anxiety
  • You can play while listening to music
  • You can play at home, at a pub, at a social club or at a gaming ground
  • Having your own kit won’t cost you a fortune
  • There are no maintenance costs
  • There is no need to have peak physical fitness
  • You can help to lower blood pressure by standing up and taking a shot
  • You don’t have to wait for the weather to be nice in order to play
  • You can build teamwork skills depending on the popular dart games played
  • It enforces the use of strategical and critical thinking 
  • You will naturally build and speed-up your maths skills
  • Focusing on the board and the dart throwing tips will build concentration
  • You don’t have to be very verbal
  • There are no life-threatening rules you need to memorize (don’t aim for eyes)
  • Using self-control and thinking helps to keep Alzheimer’s at bay
  • When using precision darts on both arms, you can prevent arthritis
  • There’s no need to shell-out for expensive clothing 
  • You can travel the world with darting tournaments
  • There aren’t masses amounts of kit or equipment needed to be lugged around
  • It is something that can be easily picked up and put down

How A Militant Game of Precision Darts Was Modernised by A Carpenter

How A Militant Game of Precision Darts Was Modernised by A Carpenter

Considering darts are such a popular game throughout the UK, US and beyond, there must be an in-depth history to it. However, in comparison to many other sports on the map, it is relatively new (there aren’t even any Ancient Egyptians in this one!). 

Nonetheless, it doesn’t take away from the strange ups and downs the sport has had to face in its brief lifetime. 

The beginning of darts is said to stem from militant forces trying to pass the time around 700 years ago. Reports suggest that when the British army were bored, and in their trenches, they would take small and sharp arrow-shaped objects and throw them at an up-turned wine casket. 

As time would progress, this small game would build traction with many officials encouraging the game due to the precision darts target practice they were receiving. With time, these caskets were replaced with the cross-section of tree trunks due to the accessibility and durability. 

As with any other serendipitous moment, these trunks would have natural radial rings; the pith, the heartwood, the sapwood and the bark to name a few. These rings gave way to the first precision darts throwing and points system that we know and love today.

As time progressed, it’s sheer fun aspect and accessibility led to many notable figures becoming a part of the sport. One such figure was King Henry VIII of England who even had his own decorated dart set gifted by second wife, Anne Boleyn. 

Throughout the UK, there were different games played with different rules; it was quite unrestrained. So, if you were to do a pub crawl across the UK with pints of *coke, you might find historical dart boards pinned to the walls that have no resemblance to one-another. 

For example: The Old-Style London dartboard (A.K.A. the clock) is the board most akin to the modern-day regulation dart board. Yet, other regions held different types such as; the Grimsby, the Irish Black, the Lincoln and the Manchester Log-End. These were all back and white with different numbering systems and no radial scoring sections.

It wasn’t until 1896, where London carpenter Brian Gamlin would invent the number system (to be discussed later) that modern darts is considered to have been ‘invented’. 

Yet, despite a popular game played across the country, it was still met with disparity and suspicion. There was even a Leeds pub owner taken to court over the simple fact of allowing the game to take place on his premises. However, this was defeated when his best player (William ‘Bigfoot’ Annakin) would show the judge precision darts and dart throwing tips. 

However, World War II would set the standard when it came to playing and enjoying the ability to develop a consistent throw. Soldiers were shipped out with darts and a beginner’s guide to darts in their NAAFI sports pack. A small victory for players around the country. 

Darts as we know it today has branched out; still holding onto the darts of what once was, pubs across the UK (and now the US) still adorn their walls with the traditional dart board allowing anyone who enters a throw. Yet, we now have the BDO (British Darts Organisation) with the PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) World Championships to continue the famous sport at tournament level. 

The Beginner’s Guide to Darts’ Essential Shopping List

The Beginner’s Guide to Darts’ Essential Shopping List

As the team here at The Hobby Kraze have mentioned; there’s not much to the arsenal of a darts player. Maybe their lucky shoes, a tournament shirt and the special engraved set of darts gifted by that someone special. 

In fact, even if you were to take your darting ventures into the house after reading this beginner’s guide to darts in order to develop a consistent throw, you’ll still only need three things (five if you want to count each dart). There’s the dart board, the darts and the oche.

So, we thought we’d talk you through all the parts of the dart and how these can be customised to fit your throw as a dart player.

The Four Aspects

There are four parts to the dart: the flight, shaft (A.K.A. stem), barrel and point. 

The flight refers to the wings you see at the end, the shaft is the long and thin component, the barrel is the part of the dart where your fingers will sit in a throw and the point is the sharp end that needs to be aimed for the dartboard and not your sibling’s eye.

The stem and the point are rather standardised, but you may find a point made of a different metal simply for the aesthetics or cost.

The Barrel is Beautiful Just the Way it is

The barrel of the dart can be short and fat or long and thin. And, this doesn’t matter. If you find yourself holding onto a dart barrel that is shorter and thicker than that of your competitor, there’s no need to go and trade it in for a thinner model. 

While you are able to do this, it’s really a matter of preference. As long as you find the grip comfortable and it doesn’t exceed 200mm in length, it doesn’t really matter.

The same goes for the colour of the barrel, there is no regulation to say it must be black, white, striped or rainbow coloured. The barrel of the dart is just one way you can make this sport personalised and unique to you.

Weight is a Consideration of Regulation

While colour and shape might not matter in a game or tournament of darts, the weight certainly does. 

According to world tournament regulations set by governing bodies such as the DRA (Darts Regulation Authority), the dart must not exceed 40g in weight. If you’re one of our American friends, that equates to 1.4 ounces.

The reason the dart weight is regulated is simply down to the physical mechanics to throwing. The heavier a dart is, the more precision you will have while having to exert less energy. A heavier dart is less likely to hit air traction, will travel in a straight line and will travel considerably faster. 

Hint: the standard weight that most people throw with is around 20g because it doesn’t wear out the arm by holding a heavier dart and is simply the dart most commonly seen on the shelves of dart shops. 

A Dart’s Flight Shapes 

When we say this, we don’t mean the path the dart will fly on the way to the dartboard while making a triple layback and somersault. The flight shape is the shape of the paper wings at the end of the dart. 

The flight is there to help stabilise the dart through flight. With this, there have been many new shapes claiming to provide the best precision, the most control, the straightest line of sight and so on. 

In fact, there are around 20 different flight shapes you could come across in your darting hobby: 

  • Big Wing
  • Combat
  • DXM
  • Fantail
  • Fin
  • Heart
  • Kite
  • Pear
  • Plus
  • Slim
  • Standard
  • Vortex
  • V-Wing
  • Mini Slim
  • Mini Standard
  • Axis
  • Triad
  • Butterfly
  • Delta
  • Tomshawk

The idea is that the bigger the flight or the more surface area the flight has, the more stability you’ll get in the air. And, the great thing is that this size is not regulated at all. However, you do have to weigh-out having a large flight while not allowing it to catch your hand as you release promptly changing the flight path.

Just to get you pointing in the right direction: The pear and the standard are the most common and widely used shapes among amateur and professional players around the world. So, going for something you know will work, is never going to do any harm. 

Yet, here at The Hobby Kraze, we like to see you enjoying your hobby to the crest, meaning you should try out different shapes and sizes to see which best suits you rather than letting the law of averages do their job!

Dart Throwing Tips: Grip

Dart Throwing Tips Grip

So, now you’ve got your equipment, it’s time to begin learning how to actually play darts. 

The first thing you’ll need to master is the grip of your dart. This is generally something that is down to personal preference and whatever feels comfortable while you develop a consistent throw. After all; it’s all about precision darts rather than throwing darts. 

To begin with, you’ll want to hold the barrel of the dart as if it were a pen. Let your hand flow freely, loosen your grip and let the dart wobble into the place where it feels most comfortable. 

One of the other misconceptions you might see or hear about darts is that you must be holding the barrel of the dart and touching nowhere else. This is completely fake. The truth is that the barrel is there for comfort and you can hold the dart however you’d like. 

One of the team’s dart throwing tips is that holding the dart on the point or close to the point is growing in popularity across the UK. This is because it provides you with more control for precision darts throughout all popular dart games. 

Have a little play and see what works for you but don’t be surprised to find the odd papercut on your hands when first starting out!

Dart Throwing Tips: Sight and Aim

Dart Throwing Tips Sight and Aim

The next thing to think about is how you’re going to throw the dart. In terms of darts, you normally aim with the hand you wite with, but you need to check with your eye.

In order to do this, sit or stand straight-on. Look at an object in front of you and point at it (it doesn’t matter which hand). Close your right eye, if your finger is no longer pointing at the object, your left eye is dominant, if the finger is still pointing at it, then your right eye is dominant. 

Generally speaking, this should line-up with the side you write with. I.e., if you’re right-handed, your right eye should be dominant and vice-versa. 

Hold your dart in your dominant hand, bring it up to your dominant eye and make a right-angle with your elbow. Close your left eye and this is your aim!

Dart Throwing Tips: Posture and Stance

Dart Throwing Tips Posture and Stance

When it comes to stance, you always need to be behind the oche. This is located on the floor and should be around 9ft 7in away from the dart board in a perpendicular manner. 

Then, your stance comes through after knowing your dominant side: Whichever side is dominant needs to have that foot forward and the knee slightly bent. Then, your non-dominant leg needs to be behind you for support. 

For example, if your right side is dominant, you will use your right eye to aim, your right hand to hold the dart and your right foot will be in front. 

When it comes to posture, you need to keep a straight back and shoulders to ensure repeatability and develop a consistent throw with precision darts.

Dart Throwing Tips: Release

Dart Throwing Tips Release

The first thing you should do is put the dart down. Then hop into your stance behind the oche and focus your eyes on the bullseye in the centre of the board. 

Bring your hand up to your eye with the right-angled elbow and aggressively point at the bullseye with your finger (on the dominant hand!). This is your release motion.

When you’ve done this a few times and you develop a consistent throw no matter where you plan to point or which popular dart games you plan to begin, have a go with an actual dart. Maybe try the first throw in a pub where there are already holes in the wall around the dartboard. Otherwise, you may need us to begin writing the ultimate beginner’s guide to spackle and paint. 

Getting to Know the Dart Board to Develop a Consistent Throw

Getting to Know the Dart Board to Develop a Consistent Throw

Back in the 1920s, a man named Edward Leggat created a dart board made of clay. However, the idea didn’t stick for long. Today, the dart board is commonly made of sisal, bristle, cork or elmwood to provide the perfect catchment texture for the dart. Not only this, but this type of material allows the repetition of precision darts to be thrown at the board without it loosing quality, durability or just breaking altogether. 

It might seem as though creator Brian Gamlin may have had a few too many pints of *coke when deciding upon the numbering system on the dartboard, but there’s method in the madness.

In actual fact, they are placed in a way to build up and develop a consistent throw for the players. For example, the 20 is bordered by 1 and 5, meaning the penalty for missing a 20 would be gaining a low score of 1 or 5. This pattern continues around the board where the higher the number lost, the bigger the penalty. 

Moving onto the way the points are tallied, there are 5 segments that you should be aware of. As you look at a dart board, you’ll find there is a centre circle (A.K.A. the bullseye). Around this, there are 6 subsequent circles to total 7. 

In order of appearance from the outside inward:

1. The Outer-Most Ring

This ring contains numbers. With 20 at the top and 3 at the bottom. These are the numbers that signify the number of points you will get in accordance with where you throw the dart. 

If you throw the dart on this area of the board, you will gain no points. Or, depending on the popular dart games you’re playing, it could deduct points from the scoreboard.

2. The Double Ring

This is a thin yet long segment to the board. If you score in this segment, you will gain double the points listed in the slice of the board. For example, if you struck the board in the double ring under the 29, you have gained yourself 40 points.

3. The Single Score Ring 

As this is the largest segment to the board, it is the easiest to aim for. So, if you were to catch the board in the single score ring, you will have only scored the total listed in the segment. For example, if you were to hit under the 20 in the single score ring, you will have gained 20 points. 

4. The Triple Ring

Another thin line, yet slightly narrower, this area will triple the points if struck. So, if you were to hit the dartboard in the triple ring under the 20 segments, you have gained 60 points.

5. The Single Score Ring

Another very big segment yet closer to the bullseye, it still only gives the single score. This is because it can be very easy to aim for due to its size. 

As well as this, it provides great incentive to develop a consistent throw and master the precision darts throwing manoeuvre. This is because, if you were to aim for the single bull, yet miss and hit the single score ring, your overall score rise would see a detrimental effect. So, make sure your aim is on-point!

6. The Single Bull

The single bull is the small outer ring closest to the bullseye, itself. This is part of the bull and can award many points if hit. It is also the first segment whose points are not dictated by the numbers in the outer circle. So, no matter where you hit within this entire ring, you have scored 25 points. 

7. The Double Bull (Bullseye)

Finally, there’s the true centre of the board. Again, there are no segments to this part and no matter where you hit, as long as it is within the ring, you have bagged yourself an easy 50 points. 

Fun fact: this is yet another common misconception that a dart player should continuously aim for the bullseye with each of their three shots. However, it truly depends on the popular dart games played. Darts is a game of strategy and maths where you need to calculate each throw and target to gain a certain number of points or continue in the game.

The Best Dart Game to Play with Friends or to Practice Precision Darts

The Best Dart Game to Play with Friends or to Practice Precision Darts

While there are many different ways to play darts or even practice your precision darts, there’s really only one game you should learn and master. The ‘501’ game. 

The 501 game is played the most throughout tournaments and professional matches. Luckily, it is also the simplest of the popular dart games to play.

Each player begins with a score of 501 and three darts. The aim of the game is to reach exactly zero. For every turn a player has, they need to use all three darts to score, calculate and deduct from their 501 totals. Then, when the last dart hits the board for a win, it needs to either hit a double ring or the bullseye. If a player hits a number where their total is down to 1 or past 0, their turn is discounted, and they return to the score prior to that turn. It’s like blackjack but with sharp objects and a vicious throw! 

As mentioned, there are so many more fun past times to have with your darts and dartboard. Many of which you’ll likely pick up from your local pub or from communities of like-minded players you’ll start to play with. But, for now, here’s a small list of popular dart games for you to check-out in your own time:

  • Singles
  • 301
  • Cricket
  • Around the World
  • Shanghai
  • Halve-It
  • Killer
  • Legs
  • Golf
  • Baseball 
  • Gotcha
  • Chase the Dragon

Conclusion 

And there you have it, ladies and gents around the world: your ultimate beginner’s guide to darts. 

If there’s one last nugget of information the team here can pass on before you start throwing sharp objects around the world, it’s to go out to a couple of dart shops. Spend a day where you can test out all the weights, flights, sizes, shapes and your aim of the dart to find which suits you. Make a day out of it where you can dedicate a few hours building a friendship with the shopfloor assistant who can help. Try everything you possibly can so you’re buying the stuff you need rather than the stuff you want or won’t want in the future. 

Otherwise, you’re all set to go. If you’ve learned something new and interesting while on the hunt for your new perfect hobby, then let us know. Here at The Hobby Kraze we love to see your adventure, so don’t forget to take a snap of your dart board and show us your precision darts skills through social media!

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