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All About DARTS

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The dart board Darts games
The playing area Equipment


The dartboard


Objective: Players throw darts at the board and try to build the highest score from three darts.

Points are scored relative to where the darts hit the board. There are many different variations of darts which can all be played with the same equipment.


The dart board

To decide who throws first, each player throws a dart, and tries to get as close to the bullseye as possible (centre circle).

If they both get the same distance away, or both in the bullseye, the players will throw again, with the other player throwing first, until a starter can be decided.

To look at a dartboard from the inside out:
- The central red dot is the bullseye (or bull). It counts as 50 points (double-25).
- The green ring around that is the 25 ring (25 points).
- The black and white segments are worth as many points as the section they come under.

For example, if the dart hits either part of the black section beneath the number 20, it is worth 20 points.

The red and green ring around the board on the inside in the trebles (or triples) ring. A dart thrown into one of these little red or green parts will score as many points as the section it comes under, multiplied by three.

For example, if the dart hits this red section beneath the number 20, it is worth 60 points.

The red and green ring around the outer edge of the board is similar to the trebles ring, except this one is called the doubles ring, because a dart thrown into this section will score double the points of the number above it.

For example, if the dart hits this red section beneath the number 20, it is worth 40 points.

The playing area

The throwing area

The throwing area

Players stand behind the oche, pronounced okky, or sometimes also called the hockey, to throw the darts.

They must be a distance of 2.37 metres (7 feet 9 and a quarter inches) away, and the dart board must be 1.73 metres (5 feet 8 inches) high from the ground. This is measured from the bullseye.

Darts games

501 and others

Objective: The game play starts with a score of 301, 401, 501, 601 or 1001. The object is to get to exactly zero by throwing rounds of three darts and subtracting the sum of those darts from the current score.

Both players (or one player from each team) throw one dart each at the bullseye. The player whose dart goes closest to the bullseye gets to throw first. Often, this player will also name the game to be played.

The starting score of the game is written at the top centre of the score board (ie: 501) with a vertical line drawn down the centre of score board. "DD" or "SD" are written above or below the starting score to indicate the agreed upon game (double-in/double-out or straight-in double-out).

After each round, the total points thrown is written on the board along with the remaining score on that player/team's side of the board. A score of 100 is called a 'ton' and is written on the board as a 'T'. Scores over 100 are called 'ton' plus the rest that was thrown. For example a score of 120 would be called 'a ton twenty' and would be written on the board '2T0'.

Games may be played as double-start (also called double-in) or straight start (also called straight-in). Games may also be played as double out (double finish) or straight out (straight finish), however, straight out games are uncommon. Games of 301 and 601 are typically played as double in/double out, whereas games of 401, 501 and 1001 are usually played as straight in/double out.

If the game was called as a straight-in game, the first player (winner of the bullseye) starts by throwing three darts, and trying to get the highest score possible. The highest score available with three darts is 180. This is done by hitting three triple 20's.

If the game was called as a double-in game, the first player has to hit a double on the board before they can start to count their score.
For example, if a player threw a single 20, a double 20 and a single 20 the score would be 60 points. The first dart did not count because the player had not yet hit a double, so only the second and third darts would count.
Once a player has 'got in' the following rounds do not require a double to be thrown.

A double out game means that a double must be hit to makes the score exactly zero to win the game.
For example, if you have 32 points left, you must hit a double sixteen with your first scoring dart to win.
If you 'bust', by having an odd number left which cannot be eliminated, all the darts thrown in that round do not count and that players turn is over. It is also a bust if the final score is less than zero, or if the score is exactly zero, but the last dart was not a double.

A straight out game means that no double is needed to win, the target is just to get to zero points.
For example, if a player has a score of 32, hitting two single 16's will win the game.
The only way to 'bust' in a straight out game is to end up with less than zero as your total score.


- The x01 games are the main ones played. Specific darts sites will have more information about the many other darts games that can be played. Also see the Links section of this site.

- When a double or treble is scored in darts, it is marked as the number hit, not the total score.
For example, a double 20, it is not said or marked as 40 but said as 'double 20' and written as D20. The same is true for other scores, D10, T10, and so on.

- Most matches are 501-up, except generally in North America, where 301-up is more usual.


The dartboard

The dartboard has a diameter (distance across) of 336.5 millimetres, (13 and a quarter inches) although there may be regional variations.

It is made of 'bristle'. This is compressed vegetable matter, known as sisal which comes from Africa. Compressed paper is sometimes used, although there is a greater rate of 'bounce-out' from this.

'Bounce-out' occurs when the surface of the board does not hold the dart when the dart hits it. Wire and staples on the board can also cause this. Darts which bounce out cannot be rethrown in a game.

The darts

The pointed end of a dart is simply called the point. The part where the dart is held is metal and has ridges. This is called the barrel, then there is the shaft, and the part at the end is the flight.

If the barrel is made of brass, the entire dart is one piece. If the barrel is made of tungsten, the shaft and flight are usually detachable.

The tungsten used to make darts is more usually an alloy of nickel and tungsten. Darts generally weigh between 19 and 26 grammes (0.67 to 0.9 ounces).

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