Darts in a dartboard.jpg
Darts in a dartboard
Highest governing bodyWDF
Nicknamesthrowers, arrows, tungsten, dartsmith
First playedapprox 1860s United Kingdom [1]
Registered players655 WDF ranked players
679 PDPA ranked players
Team membersTeam events exist, see World Cup and PDC World Cup of Darts
Mixed genderSeparate men's & women's championship although no restrictions on women competing against men.
TypeTarget sports, Individual sport
EquipmentSet of 3 darts, dartboard
GlossaryGlossary of darts

Darts is a sport in which small missiles are thrown at a circular target ("dartboard") fixed to a wall.[2] Though various boards and rules have been used in the past, the term "darts" usually now refers to a standardised game involving a specific board design and set of rules. As well as being a professional competitive game, darts is a traditional pub game, commonly played in Britain and Ireland, across the Commonwealth, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the Scandinavian countries, the United States, and elsewhere.



Dartboard diagram.svg

Darts were historically used in warfare in ancient history; skirmishers used darts of varying sizes, similar to miniature javelins. It was the practice of this skill that developed into a game of skill.

Before the First World War, pubs in the United Kingdom had dartboards made from solid blocks of wood, usually elm.[3][4] They had to be soaked overnight to heal the holes made by the darts, and it was a messy business for the publican, although darts was a popular game.

This changed when a company called Nodor, whose primary business was making modelling clay (which has no odour, hence the name Nodor), started producing clay dartboards in 1923. The clay dartboards never caught on, and Nodor switched to making the traditional elm dartboards that were popular at the time.

Their model of dartboard was not a great success until someone came up with the idea of using the century plant, a type of agave, to make a dartboard. 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 fibres when they entered the board; this type of board was more durable and required little maintenance.

Quality dartboards are still made of sisal fibres; less expensive boards are sometimes made of cork or coiled paper. However, several types of sisal fibre are used in dartboards today, originating from East Africa, Brazil, or China. Despite widespread belief that some dartboards are constructed using pig bristles, camel hair, or horse hair, there is no evidence that boards have ever been produced commercially from these materials.

A regulation board is ​17 34 inches (451 mm) in diameter and is divided into 20 radial sections. Each section is separated with metal wire or a thin band of sheet metal.[5] The best dartboards have the thinnest wire, so that the darts have less chance of hitting a wire and bouncing out. The numbers indicating the various scoring sections of the board are also normally made of wire, especially on tournament-quality boards. The wire ring on which the numbers are welded can be turned to facilitate even wear of the board. Boards of lesser quality often have the numbers printed directly on the board.

In the late '70s, companies devised and began producing electronic dartboards. These dartboards have electronic scoring computers that are preprogrammed with a wide variety of game types. The board is made of plastic facings with small holes. The holes slant out, allowing the plastic-tipped darts to stick inside. When a dart strikes the board, the section makes contact with a metal plate, telling the computer where the player has thrown. These "soft-tip" darts and automated boards greatly increased the game's popularity in the United States.

Illumination should be arranged to brightly illuminate the dartboard and minimize shadows of thrown darts. The main supply for the illumination should be protected against accidental piercing, or placed away from the board.


"Hope and Anchor dart club", Hope and Anchor, 20 Waterloo Street (now Macbeth Street), Hammersmith, London, UK. c.1925. NB publican Charles Fletcher (seated front row centre) with elm board
Playing darts

The dartboard may have its origins in the cross-section of a tree. An old name for a dartboard is "butt"; the word comes from the French word but, meaning "target".[6] In particular, the Yorkshire and Manchester Log End boards differ from the standard board in that they have no triple, only double and bullseye, the Manchester board being of a smaller diameter, with a playing area of only 25 cm (9.84 in) across with double and bull areas measuring just 4 mm (0.157in.). The London Fives board is another variation. This has only 12 equal segments numbered 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10 with the doubles and trebles being a quarter of an inch (6.35mm) wide.

There is a speculation that the game originated among soldiers throwing short arrows at the bottom of a cask or at the bottom of trunks of trees. As the wood dried, cracks would develop, creating "sections". Soon, regional standards emerged, and many woodworkers supplemented bar tabs by fabricating dart boards for the local pubs.[citation needed]

It is generally said that the standard numbering plan with a 20 on top was created in 1896 by Lancashire carpenter Brian Gamlin,[7] though this is disputed.[8][9] However, a great many other configurations have been used throughout the years and in different geographical locations. Gamlin's layout was devised to penalise inaccuracy. Although this applies to most of the board, the left-hand side (near the 14 section) is preferred by beginners, for its concentration of larger numbers. Mathematically, removing the rotational symmetry by placing the "20" at the top, there are 19!, or 121,645,100,408,832,000 possible dartboards. Many different layouts would penalise a player more than the current setup; however, the current setup actually does the job rather efficiently. There have been several mathematical papers published that consider the "optimal" dartboard.[10]


Initially the missiles were simply cut down arrows or crossbow bolts.[11] The first purpose-made darts were manufactured in one piece from wood; wrapped with a strip of lead for weight and fitted with flights made from split turkey feathers. These darts were mainly imported from France and became known as French darts.[12] Metal barrels were patented in 1906 but wood continued to be used into the 1950s.[11][13] The first metal barrels were made from brass which was relatively cheap and easy to work.[12] The wooden shafts, which were now threaded to fit the tapped barrel, were either fletched as before or designed to take a paper flight. This type of dart continued to be used into the 1970s.[12] When the advantages of using plastic were realised, the shaft and flight became separate entities, although one piece moulded plastic shaft and flights were also available.[14]

Modern darts have four parts: the points, the barrels, the shafts and the flights.[15] The steel 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.[16]

The barrels come in a variety of weights and are usually constructed from brass, silver-nickel, or a tungsten alloy.[17] Brass is cheap but light and therefore brass barrels tend to be very bulky. Tungsten on the other hand, is twice as dense as brass thus a barrel of an equivalent weight could be thirty percent smaller in diameter.[18] Tungsten is very brittle however and so an alloy of between 80 and 95 per cent tungsten is used. The remainder is usually nickel, iron, or copper.[18] Silver-nickel darts offer a compromise between density and cost.

Barrels come in 3 basic shapes: cylindrical, torpedo, or ton.[19] Cylindrical barrels are the same diameter along their entire length and so tend to be long and thin. Their slenderness makes them better for grouping, but because they are long, the centre of gravity is further back. Ton shaped barrels are thin at either end but bulge in the middle. This makes them fatter than a cylindrical barrel of equivalent weight but the centre of gravity is further forward and so theoretically easier to throw. Torpedo shaped barrels are widest at the point end and taper towards the rear. This keeps the weight as far forward as possible but like the ton, gives it a larger diameter than the cylinder.

The shafts are manufactured in various lengths and some are designed to be cut to length. Shafts are generally made from plastics, nylon polymers, or metals such as aluminium and titanium; and can be rigid or flexible.[20] Longer shafts provide greater stability and allow a reduction in flight size which in turn can lead to closer grouping; but they also shift the weight towards the rear causing the dart to tilt backward during flight, requiring a harder, faster throw. A longer shaft will however make the dart less responsive and increase the chance of "wobbling".

The primary purpose of the flight is to produce drag and thus prevent the rear of the dart overtaking the point.[15] It also has an effect on stability by reducing wobble. Modern flights are generally made from plastic, nylon, or foil and are available in a range of shapes and sizes. The three most common shapes in order of size are the standard, the kite, and the smaller pear shape. The less surface area, the less stability but larger flights hamper close grouping. Some manufacturers have sought to solve this by making a flight long and thin but this in turn creates other problems such as changing the dart's centre of gravity. Generally speaking, a heavier dart will require a larger flight.[15]

The choice of barrel, shaft, and flight will depend a great deal on the individual player's throwing style. For competitive purposes, a dart cannot weigh more than 50g including the shaft and flight and cannot exceed a total length of 300mm.[21][11]

Playing dimensions

The WDF uses the following standards for play:

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

Distance - the oche (line behind which the thrower must stand) should be 7 ft 9¼ inches (2.37 m) 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 7 ft 9¼ inches (2.37 m) being the compromised length.

Other Languages
العربية: خزاقة
asturianu: Dardos
azərbaycanca: Darts
تۆرکجه: دارت
беларуская: Дартс
български: Дартс
Boarisch: Spicka
bosanski: Pikado
brezhoneg: Biroùigoù
català: Dardell
čeština: Šipky
Cymraeg: Dartiau
dansk: Dart
Deutsch: Darts
Ελληνικά: Βελάκια
español: Dardos
Esperanto: Sagoĵetado
euskara: Dardoak
فارسی: دارت
føroyskt: Dart
français: Fléchettes
Gaeilge: Dairteanna
한국어: 다트
հայերեն: Տեգախաղ
hrvatski: Pikado
italiano: Freccette
עברית: הטלת חצים
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಡಾರ್ಟ್ಸ್
ქართული: დარტსი
қазақша: Дартс
Lëtzebuergesch: Darts
lietuvių: Smiginis
magyar: Darts
Bahasa Melayu: Damak
монгол: Дартс
Nederlands: Darts (sport)
日本語: ダーツ
norsk: Dart
polski: Dart
português: Dardos
română: Darts
русский: Дартс
Scots: Dairts
Simple English: Darts
slovenčina: Šípky
slovenščina: Pikado
српски / srpski: Пикадо
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Pikado
suomi: Darts
svenska: Dart
Tagalog: Suligi
татарча/tatarça: Дартс
Türkçe: Dart
українська: Дартс
Tiếng Việt: Darts
West-Vlams: Veugelpyk
吴语: 飞镖
粵語: 飛鏢
中文: 飛鏢