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CyberDarts
DARTS BASICS

Sunday
July 27, 2014


DARTS LEAGUES
DIRECTORY


Darts Tournament
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Dartboards
Dartboard Setup
Throwing Tips
Articles

CATALOG

Darts
Shafts
Flights
Accessories

How to Play Darts
Dart Rules

Keep 'em Clean!
Sharpening Darts
Out Chart

Stop THROWING Darts!
League Play
Starting a League
Rules - Baseball Darts
ADO Rules


CyberDarts.com & Darts Basics are based upon the Editor's experiences during more than 39 years in the darts industry: throwing, observing, coaching, & selling darts to many tens of thousands of darters. Enjoy the site, I hope that you will find it informative, useful, and maybe even a bit of fun!
Rick Osgood, CyberDarts Editor


PLEASE do not copy our articles for use on other web sites! Instead, please just add this Link to your web site: CyberDarts.com.  All content on this site is Copyrighted, and may not be reproduced by any means, expcept with written permission from the publisher.


BRISTLE DARTBOARDS

Tournament quality bristle dart boards are made of natural sisal rope fiber. Sisal fiber is made from the leaves of the Agave plant, the same plant species from which tequila is made!

These rope fibers are compressed under tons of pressure, banded with steel, and bonded to a non-warping backboard.  The final effect is that of a tightly compressed brush, which will catch and hold dart points, then close up when the darts are removed. Bristle dartboards will accomodate both steel tip darts and soft-tip darts (if long points are used).

The surface is later sanded smooth and screen-printed with the appropriate colors. Finally, the wires or other dividers are attached and the number ring fastened on with clips, to allow easy rotation of worn areas.
Bristle dartboards should be rotated after about every 4 hours of steady use, so that wear is evenly distributed around the dartboard's surface.

Keep dart boards dry, and never apply any type of liquid to a bristle dartboard, as water of other liquids will immediately ruin the dartboard.   (Editor's note:  No matter what you hear at a bar, applying any liquid really will ruin a bristle dartboard.  Over the years I've personally seen dozens of boards ruined this way. Yet darters keep doing this, because for an few hours, it seems to work.  Then the board's fiber pulls loose, forms giant blisters, and falls apart.)

Darts may be left in a dart-board for brief periods of time, such as a day or two.  If steel-tip darts are left in the board for extended periods (weeks or more) the dart points may rust and leave permanent stains in the bristles.

The English company NODOR first developed bristle dartboards in the 1930's, and introduced them commercially in 1936. Before that time, dartboards were generally made of elm wood, although the NODOR company also made a plasticene dartboard.

Note: It is a common misconception that dartboards are made of animal hair, such as pig bristles, camel hair, or horse hair. This is a myth... No such animal fiber boards have ever been made!

Also, the spelling "Bristol Dartboard" is incorrect. The name "Bristle Dartboard" refers to the sisal rope material that the board is made of, not the city "Bristol".

Darts setup information, including mounting information such as dartboard height and throwing distance measurements, are included at the bottom of this web page.


DARTS

Compared to many other sports, a a fairly small amount of equipment is required to play Darts.  Darts sets generally consist of 3 darts barrels, with points (usually of steel or plastic), as well as shafts and flights to help stabilize the path of the dart when thrown or tossed. Occasionally dart barrels are sold by themselves, but most major dart manufacturers market their darts products as complete sets, with barrels, points, flights, and shafts all pre-assembled, or at least in the same package. Some darts sets come packaged in carry cases with storage room for extra darts accessories.

Dart barrels are sometimes referred to as "dart pins" or "darts pins" in some parts of Asia.

Each person should have one set of 3 darts. Each person throws 3 darts, then removes them before the next person throws.

There should NEVER be more than 3 darts in a dartboard at one time.

It is difficult to share one set of darts, as it drastically slows down the game. Darts is not a game where blocking scoring areas by opponents is allowed. And having more than three darts in the board means more damaged darts & "robin hoods" due to hits from following darts.

As darters have different hand and finger sizes, so darts are not one-size-fits-all. That is another reason why it is often hard to pick just the right dart from a catalog or online site. It is really important to try the darts before buying, to ensure that the "fit" is just right for your hand and grip style. When buying darts, visit a darts shop that has boards setup for trying out the various darts styles available.

Brass Darts 

The least expensive type of metal dart. ( $5-$20 )
Brass is a fairly dense (heavy) metal, composed mostly of copper and zinc. It is relatively inexpensive, and easy to machine. However, it is so soft that the machined "grip" may quickly wear down, changing the "feel" of the dart. Brass Darts are commonly mass-produced on automated lathes, so the quality and consistency of the machining may vary considerably. Brass darts are often used as "house darts" due to low price.

Nickel/Silver Darts

( $10-$35 )
Like Brass, this is a fairly dense (heavy) metal, is relatively inexpensive, and is easy to machine. However, Nickel/Silver is harder and therefore more durable, which prevents the machined grip from wearing away as rapidly. Otherwise, similar to Brass Darts, and popular with budget-minded beginning darters. (Note: There is no actual Silver content; this Nickel and Tin alloy is often used for the moving parts of silver jewelry and for trophies.)

Tungsten Darts

Tungsten is an extremely dense metal, heavier than lead for the same size item.  Tungsten darts are considerably more dense than Brass or Nickel/Silver Darts.

Higher density materials result in  darts with smaller diameter, better "feel", and tighter possible groups on the dart-board. Tungsten is also very durable, so the machined grip will not wear down as rapidly as on Brass or Nickel/Silver Darts.

For darters, having all of the dart's mass concentrated between the fingertips greatly enhances control of the dart.

Tungsten is also very durable, so a high-density tungsten dart resists wear and the grip will last much longer. On softer metal darts, the grooves and rough knurling may wear down fairly quickly from skin acid, friction, and hitting other darts.

The billets that tungsten darts are made from consist of a variety of metals, including tungsten.  To manufacture the blanks for machining tungsten darts, tungsten powder and other metals are blended and bonded by heat and pressure, resulting in a "sintered" material that we refer to as Nickel-Tungsten (or Copper-Tungsten, etc.)  Common materials include tungsten, nickel, copper, and iron.  The exact mix of materials varies considerably from one company to another, based on their requirements for density, cost, and ease of machining.

Tungsten darts cost more for several reasons:  The metal is expensive, and since it is very dense, tungsten requires more effort to fabricate into darts.

There are 4 general categories of Tungsten darts.

1.   50% to 70% Tungsten- $15 to $50 (commonly sold at discount stores)
2.
   80% Tungsten - $25-$75 (popular with new league players)
3
.    90% Tungsten- $50-$200 (high density, will hold up well, feel better to throw.)
4.
    95% to 98% Tungsten - $100 - $200 (high density, thinner, resist wear, feel better to throw. However, slightly more likely to break.)

Discount outlets often sell low-density Tungsten darts without specifying the percentage of Tungsten content, but just say "Tungsten Darts". Such darts are often cheap Chinese imports of poor quality. Look for the percentage of tungsten on the packaging, a higher number means that the dart is more dense, and generally better quality.

Tungsten prices have gone up in recent years, raising the price of quality darts sets. However, in order to offer "bargain" prices, many sporting good stores & discount outlets now sell cheap "Tungsten Darts" that actually contain only a tiny trace of tungsten in them. Many of these cheap sets are about the same density as brass (or less), but cost quite a bit more. Always look for the percentage of tungsten on the package, and buy from a reliable vendor.

There are also a small number of Copper-Tungsten darts available. This is a much softer material, with about 70% Tungsten content. They are generally less expensive than Nickel-Tungsten darts. Some darters, especially old-timers, like the grip of these darts as the metal surface develops microscopic pits after they have been thrown for awhile.  Copper tungsten darts have become much less common in recent years, with Nickel/Tungsten darts becoming the primary type of high-density darts.


SHAFTS
Shafts serve to hold the flights away from the center of mass of the dart barrel.  The shaft acts as a lever to make the flight more effective at resisting sideways motion.  A longer shaft will produce about the same effect as a larger flight.  There are a plethora of different shaft designs, but all serve essentially this same purpose.

SHAFTS - Plastic

Inexpensive, and available in many colors, but break fairly easily. Good shafts until you start throwing tight groups and breaking lots of shafts. Materials are usually polycarbonate or nylon, some have replaceable tops for greater longevity. Priced from $1 to $3.

SHAFTS - Composite

Composite type shafts, like the Alamo or Quiver, have plastic bases that thread into the dart, combined with aluminum or other metal alloy tops that hold the flight. These are excellent shafts, quite durable, and will not vibrate loose as easily as solid aluminum shafts. Generally available with replaceable tops for economy and convenience. Most styles priced at $2 to $6.

SHAFTS - Solid Aluminum

More rigid and durable than Plastic or Composite Shafts, in many colorful styles, some with decorative engraved stripes, flutes, or spirals. May tend to vibrate loose, especially on heavy darts. When used with thick flights, such as Dimplex or Nylon, the slots may need to be pried open slightly, with a dart tool or knife blade. Will normally bend instead of breaking when hit; just straighten for more use. Priced from $2 to $6.

Note: Aluminum shafts often vibrate loose when playing, so rubber O-ring lock washers are highly recommended. This only occurs when there is a metal-to-metal contact, so plastic shafts do not normally need the lock washers.

SHAFTS - Spinning

A variety of shaft styles are now available, that allow the flight to turn out of the way when struck by another dart. Spinning shafts do nothing to improve the flight of the dart through the air, but they do allow tighter groups by letting the flights align with each other. Also, these shaft will greatly reduce torn flights and "rovin-hooded" shafts. Priced from $2 to $12.


RULES

Rules to the Darts Game of '01, (pronounced " Oh-One")

The game of '01 is the classic game of Darts, played world-wide. The "01" refers to the fact that the game is played from a certain number of points, always ending in "01". For example, the common tournament game of 501 (pronounced "Five-Oh-One"), is played from 501 points. Other variations are 301, 601, 801, 1001. The higher point games are usually played by teams.

The object of the game is simple... each player starts with the same score (501, for example) and the first to reduce his score to zero wins.

Players take turns throwing three darts each and subtract all points scored from their own beginning score (501). Each player removes his darts and marks his score before the opponent throws. Darts that bounce off or miss the board do not score and cannot be rethrown that turn.

The difficult part of the game lies in the finish, known as "going-out". To win, you must reach zero before your opponent, but you must also reach exactly zero, and the dart that brings the score down to zero must be a double. Doubles consist of the numbers in the outside narrow scoring band and the center (small) bullseye which counts as 50 points and is an actual double of the outer 25-point bull.

For instance, if you have 2 points left, you must hit a double-1 to bring the score down to zero. From 18 points, a double-9 would work. If you have an odd number left (a number that cannot be divided by 2), then darts must be thrown to reduce the score to an even number, before throwing at a double. For instance, there is no possible double out from 19, so a way to finish would be to throw a single-3 first, reducing the score to 16. The 16 can then be "taken-out" by throwing a double-8.

The games of 501, 601, 801, 1001, etc. are all played the same way, except for starting with more points. The game of 301 is different, however. Because of the potential for a very short game, 301 has an added difficulty...the game must start with a double. That is, each player must hit a double (any double) to start scoring. Each players scoring begins with the score of the first dart that hits a double.


FLIGHTS

CyberDarts Flights Graphic

FLIGHTS...What kind to use?

Flights are the fins or wings found at the back of a dart. They serve to stabilize the dart during flight and are made of various materials.  Dart flights do not generate lift. Flights only resist motion away from the centerline of the dart.  (Airplane wings generate lift by means of their curved shape, whereas darts flights are flat.)

HARD FLIGHTS are made of a stiff polyester plastic that holds shape well. The layers are permanently sealed together by heat during manufacture. Because the plastic is harder, they don't tear as easily as Soft Flights... however if they do tear, they cannot be resealed and are ruined. Hard Flights do not flex like a Soft Flight when hit, but do "pop off" the shaft when hitting another dart. This is desirable as it reduces deflection and allows tight groups. Hard Flights were originally made of a clear plastic, which resulted in fairly dull colors in printed designs. During the last few years, Melinex, a type of opaque plastic, has been used for printing hundreds of brighter designs. Also known as "Poly Flights"

NYLON FLIGHTS, made of ripstop nylon fabric, ar by far the most durable type of flight. These dart flights are are very hard to tear. The stiffness varies according to the weight and type of fabric used by the manufacturer, but is roughly midway between Soft and Hard flights. The most common point of wear with this flight is at the front, where it is inserted into the shaft. Since ripstop nylon fabric is a thicker material, it is important to pry open the slots on the shaft for a properly loose fit to avoid damage to the flight. Nylon Flights are available in solid colors and dozens of printed designs.

DIMPLEX, RIBTEX, and other similar styles are actually hard flights which have been embossed with a texture. The bumpy or ribbed surface tends to stiffen the flight, which some darters consider desirable. The extra surface area also adds a small amount of drag to the flight, which makes the dart slightly more stable in some cases. The various embossed types of flights are generally a little harder to insert into a metal shaft, due to increased thickness. Use a dart tool or knife blade to gently spread open the slots at the back of the shaft.

---> Most types of flights tend to split at the back center, where the folds meet and are hit by dart points. FLIGHT PROTECTORS are small metal or plastic devices that fit over and protect this area. The life of a set of flights may be greatly extended by using Flight Protectors. They are also reusable and may outlast many sets of flights. Flight protectors do not add any significant weight to the dart, and will not change the way the dart flies.

SOFT FLIGHTS are made of a flexible plastic sheet, preprinted with a variety of designs and then folded into shape. Adhesive (glue) holds the layers of plastic together. If the flight is torn during use, the layers can be pressed together with fingers and the adhesive will "heal" the tear. Another benefit of this type of flight is that a Soft Flight will often flex out of the way if another dart hits it. These flights are available in hundreds of bright, attractive designs. Also known as "Reseal Flights".

Soft Flights have fallen out of favor in recent years, and are now rarely available.



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Throwing Tips & Habits to Avoid

There are a number of basics to keep in-mind, including several bad habits that you should avoid:

A steady Stance is very important. Don't lean way over the line to get closer to the board. This one is a tough habit for some people to beat, but try.. as leaning robs the darter of stability. The feet and legs should be positioned in a solid, comfortable, and relaxed stance, with weight distributed to both feet. Excessive leaning places nearly all of the body weight on one foot, tiring the shooter in long matches and damaging accuracy in the short run.

The few inches gained by leaning over the line are simply not worth the huge loss of balance and stability. Plus, leaning lowers the shoulder, forcing one to throw upwards, fighting gravity. Leaning also usually means tensing the major muscles of the body to preserve balance. This often results in a jerky release and poor follow-through, since the body is already off-balance.

A number of long-time players report back, knee, ankle, and foot pain, from spending many years standing on one foot while playing darts. Even in the short run, leaning to throw will cause minor pain in the small of the back. Especially for older players, a firm stance will stop this discomfort, both while playing and the next morning!

Think about it..

In what other sport would you drink a few beers, try to stand balanced "tiptoe" on one foot, and then try to consistently hit a small target with a sharp pointed object?

In EVERY competitive sport, Accuracy begins with a Solid Stance!


Keep your feet planted solidly on the floor, and avoid lunging, rocking, or lifting the back foot off the floor during the dart toss.

Leaning, or rocking, is often done in an attempt to get a harder throw. The dartboard really does not care how hard you throw the dart. The only important thing is how accurately you throw it.!

Even a light throw, if accompanied by a smooth and exteded follow-through, will easily reach the dart board and score.

Such wasted motion can really be a bad habit, as it affects the entire body and throw. Lifting the foot even partway from the floor deprives the body of good balance during the crucial moment of follow-through. The strength required to reach the board with any normal dart is minimal, and for best accuracy should be provided only by the fingers, wrist, and forearm. After the dart leaves your hand, let your hand and arm continue on towards the dartboard, ending with full extension, and the fingers pointing at the target.

Imagine that you are bowling.. after letting go of the ball, you still must follow-through! The same applies to Golf, Billiards, Basketball, and most every other sport. Follow-through after realeasing the dart, ending up with your fingers fully extended, as though touching the spot that you want to hit.

Missing the board or hitting too low often cause beginners to think that more power is needed. This is rarely true, as one can tell by the fact that the missed darts usually hit hard enough to stick in the wall, which is quite a bit harder than a bristle dartboard. The problem lies with the accuracy of the throw and follow through. Even small children can be taught to throw accurately without lunging or using the shoulders in a throw.

If you feel short of power, stand upright, and keep your elbow up. The upper arm should be approximately parallel to the ground. This allows you to bring your arm back further, without hitting yourself in the face with the dart!

Stand Straight, Elbow Up, and you will effectively double the power of your throw without any extra effort. For one thing, the dart is much higher than when leaning, so gravity does much of the work for you.


The dart should be held in a level position, and maintain as level a stroke as possible. Don't hold the dart sideways, or in any other position than level and pointed at the board. Skill at darts, or any other target sport, means being able to perform the same motion exactly the same way, time after time.

Common sense, as well of years of studies in other sports, show that all non-essential motion should be avoided and discarded from the darter's routine.

In Darts, this means that if the dart is to strike the board at a level attitude (nearly always the best), it should be held and thrown from a position as close to level as is possible.

Any other position (such as dart point-up, dart point-down, or sideways) means extra motion of all the hand and wrist muscles to correct the initial starting position. Pure wasted effort... and usually futile, since the dart will likely leave the hand at an angle and wobble all the way to the board.

The correcting motion needed to get the dart pointed back at the dartbaord imparts inertia to the dart's mass, away from the direction of the target. Then the darts will often stick in the board at odd directions. After a long period of play, when concentration starts to slip a little, this can really be obvious, with darts hitting at all sorts of different angles.

Instead of "throwing" the darts, instead just gently "place" them in the dartboard with a smooth motion of your hand & fingers. Throwing like a baseball is unnecessary and even dangerous, as a dart thrown too hard may hit a wire or other object and bounce clear across the room to hit someone. Dartboard wires get bent and the bristles crushed from this type of abuse.

Fortunately, "baseball throwers" usually stop after a while, either due to the laughter of spectators or the frowns of the darts bar manager. This method is also hopelessly inaccurate, as all of the major strength muscles and very few of the fine control muscles are used. A dart should never be thrown so hard that the front of the dart barrel touches the bristles. If this happens when a dart is thrown normally, then the dart's point is too short and should be changed at a darts shop.

Avoid Spinning the dart as you release it to add stability. Spinning the dart is often done inadvertently, and is a symptom of uneven release, usually a side effect of wrapping fingers OVER the dart, which then forces the dart to roll off the fingers on release. Instead, grip a dart gently from the sides, so that it easily flies free upon opening the fingers.

All parts of the hand should leave the dart at nearly the same time to ensure level flight. To achieve this, make opening the hand a positive motion, and open the fingers and thumb rapidly to an extended position, ending up pointing at the target. This will also help keep the flights from touching the fingers as the dart leaves the hand.

As an exercise to get that qucik release, imagine dipping your hand in a bucket of paint, then fling it at a spot on the wall. If your hand ends up towards the floor or ceiling, that is where the paint would have gone! Let your fingers end up naturally open and pointing at the exact spot where you want the dart to go.

Purposely adding spin to a dart-throw is wasted effort at best, and spinning the darts can actually make your game worse by causing uneven release. Most darts flights are not shaped to properly induce spin, and the darts fly too short a distance (less than 6 feet) for aerodynamic spin to be a stabilizing factor anyway.



Soft Tip Darts (Electronic Darts)
1. Description
A light weight dart with a soft plastic point is thrown at a board consisting of a perforated plastic face. Each hole in the board is sized to fit the dart point and has beveled edges to facilitate entry of the point. A series of sensors and circuits behind the face of the dartboard note the impact and inform the central computer processor, which calculates and displays the score for the dart players to see.

Note: The score displayed by the dart machine usually cannot be corrected, and the common rule for league play is: "The machine is always right!"   At a soft-tip darts tournament: if a tournament official is notified before the next person throws any darts, it may be possible to correct a scoring error.

In 1999, the recommended maximum weight for soft tip darts was raised to 18 grams, for league and tournament play. The actual machines used in bars can accomodate darts up to 25 grams or more, without damage to the board. However, darts over 20 grams tend to break more tips, so their use is discouraged. Check with your local league to see if they enforce any weight limits, as some are quite strict, and other leagues may not care what you throw.

2. Manufacturers
Most coin-op machines in the USA are made by Arachnid or Medalist. However, in the last few years some new companies have entered the market.  Particularly notable is DartsLive, a Japanese soft-tip brand that heavily promotes the networking features of their darts machines.  The major coin-op manufacturers also help setup leagues to play on their machines, and have national competitions. Quite a few companies import and market home versions of soft-tip darts machines.

3 Measurements
Most games are played about the same way as for steel-pointed darts, except that the darts setup uses a throwing distance of 8 feet for soft-tip machines. The height to the center of the board (the Bull) is 68 inches, the same height as an English Clockface Bristle Dartboardoard. Rules of play and weight limits for Soft-tip darts are generally set by the manufacturers at their annual meetings.


LEAGUE PLAY
Darts Leagues are similar to other sports leagues, such as bowling or softball leagues. There are many variations, but the following is a general outline that applies to most dart leagues.

Leagues may be run by a group of volunteers, or the league may be run as a business. A group of players, (usually from 4 to 8) form each team, who play one night a week for a season, which may run from 8 to 40 weeks in length. During the season, each team normally plays each of the other teams several times. To ensure consistent & fair games, dart leagues generally measure and approve the darts setup and quality of the dartboards in each participating league darts bar.

In most areas, each team member must join a Darts Association, paying annual dues (typically $5-$40). This entitles you to participate in league activities, get the newsletter, if any, and sometimes get a patch, pin, or shirt with the Association logo. Compared to other activities, the cost of darts league play is generally very reasonable.

Each darts team must also usually pay a team fee every season, ($10 to $75) which goes towards paying the statistician, printing scoresheets, buying trophies, jackets, etc. In many cases, the team fee is paid for by the sponsoring bar, that is, the pub at which the team plays darts. The bar will also often provide team shirts, imprinted with the bar logo and team name.

Some leagues also have nightly fees, or player fees. These are usually in the $2 to $10 per night range, and is normally paid back at the end of the season as prize money, or as perks such as a major party, pre-paid trip to an out-of-town tournament, or as jackets. (One soft-tip league in Texas gives every member a 4-day trip to Las Vegas at the end of the season. They fill an entire chartered plane once each year!)

If several bars participate in the League, then play is usually Home-and-Away, meaning that you play at your home bar every other week, and visit at the other teams' bars the alternate weeks. Some leagues, called In-House Leagues, play all games at just one location.

Leagues in most areas play on weekday evenings, although there are quite a few local exceptions. Typical start time is 8pm, with play normally lasting from 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours. Play consists of a variety of games of '01 and sometimes Cricket (see RULES), with Singles, Doubles, and Team matches usually played.

Don't be afraid to join a league, due to lack of skill... Most leagues are split into divisions, of different skill levels, or have some sort of handicapping system.

For more info on Darts Leagues in your area, check theAssociation Directory.


How to Setup a Dartboard:

Steel-Point Type Dart Board Measurements for hanging a bristle dartboard:

dartboard setup

Bristle Dartboard Setup, for stee-tip darts:

The Official dart throwing distance for league and tournaments, in most countries, is 2.37 meters, as measured along the floor, from the plane of the face of the dartboard. In Imperial measurement, or feet/inches, that distance is 7 feet, 9-1/4 inches.

The height of the board, from the floor to the center of the bull, (also called bullseye), is 173 centimeters, or 5 feet, 8 inches.

To easily check your throw line measurement, the diagonal distance from the Bull, down and out to the Throw Line, should be 9 feet, 7-3/8 inches.


Soft-Tip Type Electronic Dart Board Setup Measurements:

The height of the Bullseye is the same as for both soft-tip and steel-tip dartboards: Height from floor to center of Bull, is 173 centimeters, or 5 feet, 8 inches.

However, Soft-Tip Darts is played from a throwing distance of 8 feet, measured along the floor from the plane of the face of the electronic dartboard.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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