Darts in a dartboard
|Nicknames||throwers, arrows, tungsten, dartsmith|
|First played||approx 1860s United Kingdom |
|Team members||Team events exist, see
|Mixed gender||Separate men's & women's championship although no restrictions on women competing against men.|
|Equipment||Set of 3 darts, dartboard|
||Not ever recognised as an Olympic sport|
Darts is the sport in which
Darts were historically used in warfare in ancient history; skirmishers used darts of varying sizes, similar to miniature javelins. It was the practice of this skill that developed into a game of skill. Before the First World War,
Quality dartboards are still made of
A regulation board is 17 3⁄4 inches (451 mm) in diameter and is divided into 20 radial sections. Each section is separated with metal wire or a thin band of sheet metal.  The best dartboards have the thinnest wire, so that the darts have less chance of hitting a wire and bouncing out. The numbers indicating the various scoring sections of the board are also normally made of wire, especially on tournament-quality boards. The wire ring on which the numbers are welded can be turned to facilitate even wear of the board. Boards of lesser quality often have the numbers printed directly on the board.
Recently, some companies have produced electronic dartboards. These dartboards have electronic scoring computers that are preprogrammed with a wide variety of game types. The board is made of plastic facings with small holes. The holes slant out, allowing the plastic-tipped darts to stick inside. When a dart strikes the board, the section makes contact with a metal plate, telling the computer where the player has thrown.
Illumination should be arranged to brightly illuminate the dartboard and minimize shadows of thrown darts. The main supply for the illumination should be protected against accidental piercing, or placed away from the board.
The dartboard may have its origins in the cross-section of a tree. An old name for a dartboard is "
There is a speculation that the game originated among soldiers throwing short arrows at the bottom of a cask or at the bottom of trunks of trees. As the wood dried, cracks would develop, creating "sections". Soon, regional standards emerged and many woodworkers supplemented bar tabs by fabricating dart boards for the local pubs.
It is generally said that the standard numbering plan with a 20 on top was created in 1896 by
Initially the missiles were simply cut down arrows or crossbow bolts.  The first purpose-made darts were manufactured in one piece from wood; wrapped with a strip of lead for weight and fitted with flights made from split turkey feathers. These darts were mainly imported from France and became known as French darts.  Metal barrels were patented in 1906 but wood continued to be used into the 1950s.   The first metal barrels were made from brass which was relatively cheap and easy to work.  The wooden shafts, which were now threaded to fit the tapped barrel, were either fletched as before or designed to take a paper flight. This type of dart continued to be used into the 1970s.  When the advantages of using plastic were realised, the shaft and flight became separate entities, although one piece moulded plastic shaft and flights were also available. 
Modern darts have four parts: the points, the barrels, the shafts and the flights.  The steel points come in 2 common lengths, 32mm and 41mm and are sometimes knurled or coated to improve grip. Others are designed to retract slightly on impact to lessen the chance of bouncing out. 
The barrels come in a variety of weights and are usually constructed from brass, silver-nickel, or a
Barrels come in 3 basic shapes: cylindrical, torpedo, or ton.  Cylindrical barrels are the same diameter along their entire length and so tend to be long and thin. Their slenderness makes them better for grouping but because they are long, the centre of gravity is further back. Ton shaped barrels are thin at either end but bulge in the middle. This makes them fatter than a cylindrical barrel of equivalent weight but the centre of gravity is further forward and so theoretically easier to throw. Torpedo shaped barrels are widest at the point end and taper towards the rear. This keeps the weight as far forward as possible but like the ton, gives it a larger diameter than the cylinder.
The shafts are manufactured in various lengths and some are designed to be cut to length. Shafts are generally made from plastics, nylon polymers, or metals such as aluminium and titanium; and can be rigid or flexible.  Longer shafts provide greater stability and allow a reduction in flight size which in turn can lead to closer grouping; but they also shift the weight towards the rear causing the dart to tilt backwards during flight,requiring a harder, faster throw. A longer shaft will however make the dart less responsive and increase the chance of "wobbling".
The primary purpose of the flight is to produce drag and thus prevent the rear of the dart overtaking the point.  It also has an effect on stability by reducing wobble. Modern flights are generally made from plastic, nylon, or foil and are available in a range of shapes and sizes. The three most common shapes in order of size are the standard, the kite, and the smaller pear shape. The less surface area, the less stability but larger flights hamper close grouping. Some manufactures have sought to solve this by making a flight long and thin but this in turn creates other problems such as changing the dart's centre of gravity. Generally speaking a heavier dart will require a larger flight. 
The choice of barrel, shaft, and flight will depend a great deal on the individual player's throwing style. For competitive purposes a dart cannot weigh more than 50g including the shaft and flight and cannot exceed a total length of 300mm. 
The WDF uses the following standards for play:
Height - The dart board is hung so that the centre of the bulls eye is 5 ft 8 inches (1.73 m) from the floor. This is considered eye-level for a six-foot man.
Distance - The
The regulations came about due to the United Kingdom and the rest of the world playing at different lengths, with 7 ft 9¼ inches (2.37 m) being the compromised length.