Darts is a competitive game in which players throw short arrows called “darts” at a target “dartboard”. The game has changed over time since its invention. These days a set of universal rules are normally used. Scoring works by aiming for specific numbered regions on the dartboard consisting of several rings that increase and decrease in value. The most well known score is a “bullseye”. A “bullseye” is achieved when a dart hits the centermost part of the board. However, a higher score can be achieved by hitting the triple 20 section. Although darts can be played competitively, it is often played recreationally amongst friends in a casual pub environment. Now that you know a bit more about it, are you curious about who invented darts?
Darts likely originated from archery and has been played in bars across England since the 1970s. However, there has been evidence of similar games originating back to the early 1300s. The game would have been played by soldiers during periods of downtime, involving throwing sharp projectiles at round sections of wood and furniture. Soldiers eventually turned to this early form of darts as a way to improve their aiming abilities. Over time the hobby spread throughout the troops.
The Darts Court Case
The game of darts was not always socially acceptable due to their violent origins from arrows and spears. The debate over whether darts was a legitimate and respectable hobby took place in 1908. A man named Jim Garside was brought to court when he allowed darts to be played at his bar the Adelphi Inn. This sparked controversy over whether the game could be considered a sport at all, or even be played with any level of skill. This introduced darts champion William “bigfoot” Anakin, who was called upon by Garside to aid in his case. Anakin’s ability to hit any number the judge requested proved the technical ability involved with the game. Because of this skill it was allowed to be introduced to pubs legally.
Is Darts a Sport?
The game of dart-throwing has evolved over time and is now officially deemed a sport despite much controversy. The argument between darts being a game or sport comes from sport’s definition of requiring “physical exertion”, however the level of skill associated with many of these activities demonstrates that darts can be played competitively, and in a physical manner.
Evolution of Darts
Darts and Dartboards have developed in form over time. Originally a sliced section of a tree log would be used as a dart board. The rings inside the trunk symbolizing a tree’s age were used as a rough scoring system. Similar to modern day darts, each ring was used to symbolize a score much like an archery board. However, as the game grew in popularity, softer woods became riddled with holes from projectiles making them insufficient. Original darts were much different. They were often crossbow bolts or arrows made from wood, a lead tip as well as turkey feathers at the end. One of the main distinctions between modern archery targets and dartboards are size, scoring and materials. Dartboards are much smaller than archery targets. Part of this is because the player does not have the range of a bow. Therefore they stand much closer to the board. Scoring is different in that archery relies on circular segments, focusing on a bullseye whereas dartboards add in double and triple sections for additional points. This allows the player to grow their skills by aiming for small, specific zones. And finally, metal wires are now used in modern dartboards. This is done to create distinctions between sections to avoid their deterioration over time.
Darts Rules and Regulations
With the game of darts being officially recognized as a sport by ‘Sport England’ in 2005, a demand for serious rules and regulations arose. While there are internationally observed rules, it is always key to prioritize local rules first. For serious athletes, there are a range of criteria to consider when competing in the sport.
The classic 301 game involves players throwing a total of three darts. Each dart’s score is tallied excluding any that miss or fall from the board. Each score is deducted from a player’s total (being 301 or 501 depending on the game), and the first to reach zero wins the game.
- Steel-tip and Soft-tip Darts
Whether one is using a soft tip board or regular dartboard, different darts are required for fair competition. The material of the dart, and its length and weight can influence how they are thrown, and how often they need to be replaced. For example, heavier darts are often more prone to breaks.
- Order of Play
The order of play can be determined in several ways. The most common being with a coin toss, or a dart throw. When throwing a dart for the order of play, the competitor whose dart hits nearest to the board’s center going first.
Final Thoughts on Who Invented Darts
The history of dart-throwing, the dartboard’s past forms and the game’s rules exhibit a detailed and rich past. It’s this history that displays its players’ drive and enthusiasm towards the sport. We may never know who truly invented the game hundreds of years ago, but without William Anakin’s contributions back in 1908, the game may never have made its way into modern times. The level of skill players can achieve makes it a notable sport in itself. These days, the iconic image of a dartboard at a local pub symbolizes mastership and a rich history of unity.