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How to play darts

If you have zero knowledge about darts and you’re not concerned about rules or scoring points, the easiest way to play is to simply throw a dart and onto the dartboard try to hit the bull’s eye.

There’s more to darts than meets the eye. Hitting the target is just one part of it. There are various darts games that you can play depending on your level of skills, and there are many other things to consider such as dartboard distance, darts scoring, etc.

Below we’ll share everything that you need to know about how to play darts.

Dartboard set up

Set up your dartboard in an area where you can safely and comfortably throw your darts. If you are planning on playing darts during your next house party, make sure that your space is large enough to accommodate your guests.

1. Dartboard setup measurements

Creating a great playing space for your game of darts is not as difficult as you might expect. To start setting up your playing area, you need to determine the dartboard setup measurements such as distance to the throwing line or the right height for your dartboard.

Dartboard height

The height from the floor to the center of your dartboard’s bull’s eye should be 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 meters). This is a standard dartboard height that applies to both:

Steel tip darts - come with metal points and designed to be used when playing on bristle dartboards

Soft tip darts - come with flexible tips made of soft plastic which can be used on a bristle dartboard but is used more often on plastic or electronic dartboards

Throwing line

The throwing line, also known as the “throwing distance”, “oche” or “toe line”, refers to the line behind where a player must stand behind when throwing a dart.

For steel tip darts, the dartboard distance should be 7 feet 9 ¼ inches (237 centimeters) from the front of a bristle dartboard to the back of the throw line.

For soft tip darts, the dartboard distance should be 8 feet (244 centimeters) from the front of a soft tip dartboard to the back of the throw line. Keep in mind that soft tip darts are usually lighter than steel tip darts which can affect your throw.

Diagonal distance to the throwing line

Another way to determine the throwing line distance from the face of a dartboard is to take a diagonal measurement. The diagonal distance is the distance from the center of the bullseye to the back of the throwing line.

For steel tip darts, the diagonal distance should be 9 feet 7 ½ inches (293.4 centimeters).

For soft tip darts, the diagonal distance should be 9 feet 9 inches (297.2 centimeters).

2. Mounting options

Once you know the measurements that you need for your dartboard, you can proceed to hang your dartboard on the wall. A good tip is to mount your dartboard on a backing surface first then mount it on a wall.

Consider that a high-quality bristle dartboard weighs around 10 lbs which is why mounting your dartboard on a backing surface instead of directly on the wall is highly recommended.

Here are some mounting options:

Disc mount hanging kits

These kits include a disc that is screwed into the center back of the dartboard and a wide U-shaped bracket that can be screwed onto a backing surface or wall. The disc and bracket will keep the board balanced and secure.

Dartboard backing surfaces and cabinets

A dartboard cabinet is a very convenient way to mount your dartboard. Traditional dartboard cabinets are made with high-quality wood. It also has a dart holder and a scoreboard mounted on its side doors. Some cabinets even come with built-in lighting.

Custom or DIY backing surfaces

Backing surfaces are also known as “surrounds”. These can be made from materials such as cork, wooden pallets, or plywood covered in dark fabric. Custom backing surfaces are a great way to add some design and liven up your playing area.

When choosing a backing surface, keep in mind that the diameter of a dartboard is around 18 inches, so your backing surface should be large enough to accommodate the board, scoreboard and have an allowance for darts that miss the board. Try to allocate at least 3 square feet for your backing surface.

If you want to mount your dartboard directly on your wall, you should mount it on a wooden or concrete wall. Do not mount it on a drywall.

You can use the parts that usually come with a dartboard that will allow you to hang it on a wall. For example, bristle dartboards come with a metal slot so that you can hang the dartboard on a nail on your wall or backboard. It also comes with other metal parts and nails so that you can balance the dartboard when you mount it on a wall.

Darts scoring

There are many darts games available, and each game has different rules and ways of scoring points. To give you an idea, we will talk about one of the most common darts games, the 301501 darts. All players start the game having a total of 301501 points. They each take turns throwing their darts at the dartboard.

You should know that a dartboard is divided into 20 sections where you can get 1 to 20 points. The basic scoring rule is that the section where your dart ends up on the dartboard has a corresponding point.

The points that each player earns will be deducted from their total points. The first player to reach zero points wins the game.

The dartboard is divided into the following sections:

  • Single Area - If your dart hits on the single area, you will get the exact point indicated where your dart landed.
  • Double Ring - The double ring is the outermost circle, alternating in red and green colors. If your dart lands on the double section of a number, you will score double points of the value that is on the dartboard
  • Treble/Triple Ring - The treble section is the green and red circle in between the double section and the bullseye. Landing on the treble section of a number will earn you three times the value that is on the dartboard.
  • Bullseye - The bullseye is divided into two parts. The inner bull (innermost red circle) which is also called the double bull is worth 50 points. The outer bull (green circle surrounding the inner bull) is worth 25 points.

Make sure to assign someone to act as the “chalker” who will record the scores on the darts scoreboard. Players should ensure that their score is recorded before the darts are taken off the board.

How to throw darts

If you’re a beginner, there’s no one stopping you from the front of a dartboard and throwing a dart. There’s no guarantee you’ll score well, but you’ll still have a lot of fun. However, if you want to become a great darts player, some techniques can develop your playing skills.

Here are some things that you should know:

1. Choose the right stance

  • Stand diagonally to the dartboard - This is a balanced stance that will make it easy for you to adjust the position of your legs and your center of gravity so that you can aim better.
  • Forward stance - Your dominant foot should be placed in front with the toe touching the throw line. Make sure that your toe points directly towards what you are targeting on the dartboard. Make sure that your stance is comfortable and balanced so that you can aim well.
  • Side stance - The edge of your dominant foot should be positioned near the throwing line with your back foot angled behind your front foot. Keep your elbow inwards as well to control your movement. When you’re about to throw a dart, line up your throwing arm with your eye.
  • Angled stance - This is a combination of both the forward and side stances. It is the least popular stance since most players tend to favor either the forward or side stance.

2. Distribution of your weight

Whatever stance you choose, your weight should be distributed to favor the foot that is closest to the dartboard. Your weight should rest mostly on your forward foot while the back foot supports your weight so that your posture stays balanced. Remember that your forward foot should always stay on the ground.

3. Grip

The way you hold/grip a dart affects how well you throw. When gripping a dart, you should not apply too much pressure. Decide how many fingers you want to use and the right aim.

Here are some tips to improve your grip:

How you hold/grip the darts

You should grip a dart in a firm way to maintain control. If you hold the dart too tightly, you might strain your finger muscles. On the other hand, if your grip is too loose, your throw might not have enough force or speed.

Number of fingers

It’s up to you how many fingers you want to use. Just choose what’s comfortable for you. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Two Fingers - Hold a dart with two fingers similar to how you would hold a pen. It doesn’t give much control but a two finger dart grip throw will make less impact on your fingers.
  • Three Fingers - This grip can let you have control of a dart which is why it is popular with most players. Make sure to place the thumb behind the center of gravity of the dart to have better control.
  • Four Fingers - A four finger dart grip can provide support and control but keep in mind that the last finger placed on the barrel of your dart can disrupt your aim.
  • Five Fingers - For a five finger dart grip, you should place your pinky finger right above or below the tip of the dart. This will allow you to have precise guidance and high speed when you throw your dart.

4. Aim

One of the secrets behind a great aim is excellent hand-eye coordination. Here are some of the other things that you should consider to make a great aim:

Body positioning

Once you hold a dart, make sure that your elbow is raised slightly before throwing. Your shoulder should form a 90-degree angle while aiming your dart.

Aiming height

Position your hand holding the dart at eye level and near to the side of your eye. You can use your pinky finger or the tip of the dart to help you find the ideal line of sight and aim accurately.

5. Releasing the dart

Now that you have made your stance, distributed your weight, and are holding a dart, all that is left to do is to finally release the dart and see where it hits!

Below are three ways you can release your dart

Throw the dart with your hand and wrist

Pull your hand slightly back rather than your arm when you make your throw. You should use only your wrist and elbow to accelerate the dart’s movement.

Snap your wrist as you release the dart

As you release the dart, try to snap your wrist to help accelerate the speed of your dart and to make your aim more accurate. Make sure that you snap your wrist upward instead of downward to maintain the accuracy of your throw.

Follow through at the end of your throw

When you release the dart, let your arm stay in a throwing motion for a few seconds so that your fingers are still pointing towards your target. This will ensure that you maintain a good form.

How to play darts for beginners

Playing darts is a fun activity to play on your own, but it becomes more exciting when played with friends. While there’s nothing wrong with throwing darts mindlessly on the board, learning how to play a real darts game is a fun challenge to take on.

Here are some tips for beginners on how to play darts:

1. Know the rules

If you want to play a real game of darts and not just throw the dart however you like, you should learn the rules of playing darts first. There are different rules depending on which darts game you are playing. You can start with an easy darts game, such as 301 or 501 darts.

2. Find your grip and stance

Once you are ready to start your darts game, find the right grip and stance that you would like to use.

3. Brush up on your math skills

Keep in mind that some darts games will require you to do some calculations.

4. Become familiar with the terms

There are a lot of terms used in darts. You need to familiarize yourself with the terms to improve your darts playing skills.

5. Practice

As a beginner, you won’t become a great darts player overnight. You need to practice a lot with your grip, stance, and the way you throw your dart so that you can become better over time.

How to play darts better

For people who want to take their playing skills to the next level, here are some tips to help you get better at darts:

  1. Ensure that your dartboard is placed at the correct height and that you are throwing from the right distance.
  2. Try out different dartboard setups until you find the best one that suits you.
  3. Develop your technique. Know the grip, stance, and throwing style that works for you.
  4. Practice all the time. It’s even better if you can practice once a day.
  5. Participate in public darts games and test your skills against other players.
  6. Play a casual game of darts with your friends at home.
  7. Give yourself a “positive self-talk”. Keep a positive attitude and motivate yourself to become a better player.
  8. Have fun and celebrate whenever you make progress!

Types of darts games

If you want to get better at darts, you need to practice a lot. The thing is you play the same darts game over and over again, you might get sick of it eventually. Luckily, there are so many darts games that you can play that are great for both practice and a casual get together with friends.

Whether you are playing solo or with others, you will have an awesome time playing some of the darts games below:

Cricket darts

Cricket is a popular darts game that can be played together by beginners and seasoned darts players. It gives weak players a chance against strong players. In Cricket, players take turns throwing darts to “close out” the numbers 15 to 20 and the bullseye.

To “close out” the numbers, each player needs to hit a number three times. Once you close a number, you get points every time your opponents hit the number you closed while they are trying to close it. When all the players have closed a number, no one can earn points from it anymore. The game ends when all the numbers are closed. The player with the most points wins.

Darts 301

301 can be played by two people or more. It starts with the players having 301 points each. Each player gets to throw three darts per round. The total points they earn from the round will be deducted from their total of 301 points.

The objective of the game is to be the first player to reach zero. There are other rules to consider as well that will make the game more interesting. For instance, players need to hit a double ring on the dartboard before they can start subtracting points from their total.

Darts 501

The ‘01 games are very popular darts games that can be played in bars and competitions. The mechanics of 501 darts is similar to 301 darts wherein players start with a total of 501 points, and where the darts hit will determine how many points can be removed from their total of 501 points.

What makes 501 different from 301 is that players do not need to hit the double ring first before they can start subtracting from their total. In 501, players can start deducting points at any number. Each player/team subtracts the points they score from the total points they have left. Another rule twist is that players need to finish the game with a double score.

Darts Baseball

If you are looking for a simple darts game to play with your friends at your next house party, give darts baseball a try! The rules of darts baseball are similar to real baseball. The players’ goal is to score the most points per inning to win the game.

During the game, players can throw three darts during an inning. In the first inning, the target is 1’s. For the second inning, the target is 2’s, and so on. Players need to hit the number that corresponds to the current inning for them to earn points. The player with the most runs at the end of the nine innings wins.

Darts Shanghai

In the darts game, Shanghai, each player takes 3 turns throwing darts at the numbers 1 to 7 in sequence. The aim is to score as many points as possible per turn. Players should only aim for the specified number per round. You don’t get points if you hit other numbers.

For example, if number 1 is in play, a player can get three points if he/she hits a 1 during his/her three turns. If number seven is in play, a player can get a maximum of 21 points if he/she hits a 7 three times during the round. There are two ways of winning. The first way is to get the highest total score at the end of the game. The second way to win is to score a Shanghai and win automatically.

A Shanghai is when a player hits the single, double and triple of a number in play.

Darts Gotcha

Darts Gotcha can be a quick game or an endless loop depending on a combination of skills and luck. That’s what makes it an exciting game to play at parties! To play Gotcha in darts, players need to agree on a target number. For example, it can be 101 or 501 points. Keep in mind that the higher the number of points, the more time it will take to finish your game.

The main objective is to get the exact number that was agreed on. For example, if your target score is 101 points and you go beyond it, your score will be reset to the score of your previous throw. The game continues until a player scores the specified number of points. Who knows? Your game can end up lasting for hours!

Balloons Darts Game

If your first time playing darts was when you were a child, chances are you must have played balloon darts in a carnival or even at a children’s birthday party! The balloon darts game is pretty easy to play. Players stand 4-10 feet away from a wooden board where inflated balloons are hung.

If the game is played individually, each player has three darts that they can shoot consecutively to burst any of the balloons. Players can take turns shooting darts, and a prize can be given if a player manages to burst three balloons in a row!

This can also be played with teams wherein players from both teams take alternate turns and the team that accumulates the most points in the end wins! Feel free to modify the mechanics and rewards to make it more fun!

Single Player Darts Games

If you want to practice playing darts on your own, here are single player darts games that you can try to improve your playing skills:

High 12

For people who want to learn darts, High 12 is a simple game that is great for darts practice. All you have to do is to throw 12 darts and try to get the highest score possible.

Aside from trying to hit the number 20 wedge which earns the highest points, you should try to hit other high scoring numbers as well to build your skills.

Bullseye 500

If you want to improve hitting a target, try playing Bullseye 500. The game’s aim is for you to hit your target ten times in a row. The bullseye is worth 50 points.

If you hit the bullseye 10 times, you get 500 points. If 10 times in a row is more challenging, then you can choose an easier number first then gradually increase it.

Around the Clock

This game will help beginners become more familiar with all sections of a dartboard. You begin by throwing a dart aimed for the No. 1 segment of the board. Once you are done with the No. 1 segment, you can target the No. 2 segment next.

The game’s aim is for you to go around the board in sequence from 1, 2, 3, etc until you hit the bullseye to finish the game.

You will have three darts for each turn. You need to hit each number before you can move on to the next number. If you want to use this game to become better at playing darts, improve your skills by aiming to finish a game with fewer darts each time.

3 Player Darts Games

3 player darts games are great if you are looking for something fun and casual to do when you are hanging out with a few of your friends.

Here are some 3 player darts games that you can check out:

9 Lives

9 Lives is a darts game that is similar to Around the Clock. Both games aim to hit all the numbers on the board, but what is different with 9 Lives is that you get penalized when you fail to hit a target. In 9 Lives, each player gets three darts.

If the player completely misses a target and loses all their darts during a round, they are either out of the game or they can start from the beginning again. You should agree on the rules with your friends before you start your game.

Killers

For Killers, each player begins with three lives. Each needs to throw a dart using their weaker hand. The number where each player’s dart lands on will be their number for the rest of the game.

The goal of each player is to hit the double of their number to be named a killer. Once they become a killer, they need to hit their opponents’ double. Each hit to their opponents’ double causes them to lose a life. If a player hits their own number, they can also lose a life. The last remaining player wins the game!

High Score

This is a simple game that can be played by three people. All you need to do in this is to become the first player to score higher than a predetermined score. For example, you and your friends can agree on 1000 to be your target score.

For each round, you can throw three darts and earn points that will make up your total score for the whole game. The first player that gets a score equal or higher than the target number wins! Since you don’t have to worry about finishing at the exact number, the game becomes much easier. You can easily play while chatting and drinking with your friends.

Darts Online

Don’t worry if you can’t meet up with your friends to play some darts or you’re traveling, and you can’t practice on your dartboard at home. You can still play darts online! Whether you want to play darts on your own, go against a “dartbot”, or play with other online players in real time, there are many darts apps available that you can choose from! Aside from games, many darts apps also offer darts scoring and training features as well.

Here are some of the best darts apps for you to check out:

Best Darts Apps for iOS

1. Pro Darts 2021

Pro Darts 2021 is a darts game app that both beginners and serious darts players will love. It offers 3D game environments and scoreboards for different types of darts games. Players can easily play because of its “swipe to throw” interface and its “player assist” feature which allows people to play at their skill level.

2. PDC Darts Match

The PDC Darts Match app comes with a PDC endorsement. For those who may not know, PDC stands for the Professional Darts Corporation (formerly known as the World Darts Council), which is a professional darts organization in the UK. It is an app that allows you to play with thousands of players all over the world so you can improve your skills the more you play.

You can play live games of Cricket, 301, 501, Double In, Around the Clock against other players. You might even get to play against PDC players such as Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright, Rob Cross, and many more!

3. Darts Mind

Darts Mind is a great app if you are looking for a professional darts scorer and stats keeper for darts games. It can help record and calculate scores for darts games, such as Cricket, ‘01, Around the Clock, Gotcha, Shanghai, etc. Aside from using it for game scoring purposes, you can also use it for playing games. You can play against “dartbot” to improve your darts playing skills.

Best Darts Apps for Android

1. Darts of Fury

One of the best free darts games around is Darts of Fury. This darts game app is perfect for people who want to play interactive darts games on their Android device. You can compete with other players while playing darts games, such as Cricket, Shanghai, and more! All you need to do is to swipe on your phone to throw a dart. You can challenge your friends and find out how you are doing on the leaderboard!

2. Dart Counter

Dart Counter is a dart scorer app that is famous for using the voice of Mastercaller Ray Martin. Darts enthusiasts would know Ray Martin as a popular MC for darts competitions. If you want to feel the thrill of hearing the voice of Mastercaller Ray Martin during your game of darts, DartCounter makes use of Ray Martin’s voice to announce scores during your game. DartCounter also offers a feature where you can play against a computer dartboard to improve your skills.

3. My Dart Training

For players who are looking for an app where they can do some training and have a built-in darts scoreboard as well, My Dart Training is a great app for all kinds of darts players.

My Dart Training will help you keep track and record your training results so you can see which areas you need to improve on to develop your playing skills. It is also a multiplayer darts scorer for ‘01 games, Cricket, High Score, Killer, etc.

If you are interested in darts training, My Dart Training offers training for ‘01 games, Round the Clock, Cricket, Target Training, Halve-It / Splitscore, etc.

✍️  February 17, 2021

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