Where you set up your dartboard is of utmost importance. The dartboard should be placed on a wall that doesn't have anything else around it and where you don't mind if it gets banged up a bit (a dart can fly at least eight feet in any direction if it doesn't hit the board).
The Proper Surroundings
You have to be very careful where you decide to put the board if you plan to play in your home. You don't want it to be in a place that is heavily trafficked because darts are made of metal and are extremely dangerous if they hit anything but that board. You might want to consider hanging a scoreboard on the same wall as the dartboard.
The scoreboard should be the only thing near the dartboard on the same wall. But please don't throw any darts until the person marking in the scores is out of range!
Another important factor is the floor on which you will stand while playing the game. Darts can damage wood and linoleum surfaces. If you play on carpet, be prepared for a lot of wear-and-tear. Concrete, tile, and other hard surfaces can damage the darts. So what kind of flooring should you use?
The best thing to do is to buy a dart mat. You can buy these from sporting goods stores or specialty shops that sell darts and dart supplies. These mats are rubberized and darts will bounce lightly off their surface. This is the best route to go if you plan to play the game often. Leave ample space for spectators also—there's always some that won't be playing, but will enjoy watching the match.
If you don't have any place to hang a board, don't compromise safety—leave the kids at home and go to a local pub or bar and play the game there. You'll have just as much fun and you might even be able to get involved in a few matches and eventually join a local team.
You'll also need proper lighting to play Darts. Not only do you want to be able to see the board to make your best shot, but you'll also want to be able to read the board once your dart hits it. The best way to light the board is to hang two lights on either side of it—one on the left and the other on the right. If you don't like this look, try hanging one of those tiny “piano lights” over it—the same kind of light that people use to light paintings. That won't be too unsightly and should provide adequate light for visibility and practicality.
Hanging the Board
Get out your tape measure because hanging the board is pretty specific business. The board must be hung five feet, eight inches from the floor to the center of the dartboard.
It's in the Cards
A bull's-eye is the center of the dartboard.
Dartboards are designed so that they hang from the bull's-eye, so measuring the required height is really pretty easy to do. But if you do wind up with a board that hangs from the top, you should measure the distance from the center of the bull's-eye to the hanger and add that to the height.
Marking the Throw Line
The throw line or “hockey” should be three feet wide and it may be drawn with anything you want depending on what surface you are playing on. Many people just stick a piece of tape to the ground. Specialty stores may have a throw line sticker that you can paste to the floor. The throw line should be placed seven feet and nine-and three-quarter inches from the face of the board when playing with steel-tipped darts. With soft-tipped darts, the throw line should be eight feet from the board.
Understanding the Board
When you look at the dartboard, it may seem a bit confusing at first, but it's really pretty simple. There are numbers around the board and metal rings. There's an outer ring, a middle ring, and an inside ring. The goal is to throw your darts in the number and ring corresponding with the amount of points you need to score in a given game. The outer ring is made up of single points, the middle ring doubles your points, the inner ring triples your points, and the center is the bull's-eye. Which game you are playing and how many points you require to win the game determines where you aim your darts.
Let's Play Darts: The General Rules
There are some basic, general rules for playing Darts that exist for most games. Before you start playing, though, be sure to check with the other players on the rules you're going to stick to. Darts is played differently all over the world and you'll be amazed by some of the new rules you'll learn from other players. Don't be surprised if you find yourself making up some new games from all the varying rules you encounter. Just be sure you're all on the same page before you begin playing.
Darts is usually started with the “diddle for middle,” where each player throws a dart to determine who goes first. The goal is to hit the bull's-eye, but if no one manages that on the first throw, then the player who throws closest to the bull's-eye will be the player, or team, to go first in the game. If the first player hits the bull's-eye, the second player has the option to remove that first dart in order to try and hit the same mark. But if the second player hits the bull's-eye without removing that first dart, he or she automatically wins the throw. If the dart is removed, then a tie is declared and throwing begins again in reverse order.
The winner of the throw gets to choose which Dart game will be played.
If you are playing in teams, the team that wins the initial dart throw goes first. The teams then alternate.
The teams alternate turns and players. Be careful not to throw out of turn, because you may forfeit the game—or at least your turn. It depends on how strictly you want to enforce the general rules.
Each player throws three darts per turn.
You cannot step over the throw line when it's your turn or your darts will be voided and you will lose your turn to the opposing team. You can lean as far over the line as you want, but don't let your foot cross over.
If your dart is knocked out of the board, even if it sticks at first and then falls out, the dart does not count and may not be thrown again. You can go up to the board and catch a dart before it falls out but only if all the darts in that round have been thrown.
You might want to designate numbers to each player so you know who is up at the throw line at a given time.
Be careful not to pull your darts from the board (or let another player pull your darts from the board) before the score for that round has been agreed upon and marked on the scoreboard. If you pull the darts before the score is marked, you might lose your points.
Scoring is sometimes the trickiest part of any Dart match. You want to make sure you choose a reliable scorekeeper and one that is not on either team. That will help when making some tricky scoring decisions. It's good to have an impartial party involved.
There are several different Dart games you can choose to play. Here are just a few.