Darts has been around for a very long time. Originally thought to have originated in England as a game for those longbow archers. Apparently they would throw their arrows at the base of a beer barrel for practice and it went from there. Even Henry the Eighth is said to have had a set of darts or “arrows”. The soldiers even took their barrel bottoms with them or improvised a slice of tree as a “dart board”. So the first boards were made of wood.
The game progressed and the dart became smaller and the game of darts became a big hit in local pubs around Britain, with lots of different rules and variations depending on what area of the country you were in. Indeed “Manchester dart boards are still used in some areas of Manchester they are smaller and often referred to as a “log end” dart board.
Just about everything that came to America is attributed to the Mayflower voyage. It is even said that darts was played on the Mayflower on the way to Ameriica. They caught on after the pilgrims arrived and played them whenever they could find the time. So Darts had come to America, where it was played often, and the Widdy darts company, even developed a uniquely American dart board. Meanwhile the British spread the game further in their empire. However, there is evidence that the Indians had a form of this game long before the white men came to America.
In the eighties the game was televised and of course the sponsors (cigarette and beer companies by and large) weighed in and the sport got a much needed injection of cash. It also helped enormously when John Lowe, a legend in the darts world, got his first televised 9-dart checkout. It caused a sensation at the time, not just because of the feat itself, but for the enormous amount of money he made by doing it. A sponsor had put up £100,000 ($175,000 at the time) for anyone that could do it. That was John’s biggest payday at the time (1984)
Then came the war of the darters in the 1990’s and the game split into 2 camps, the BDO and the brand new PDC, the Professional Darts Corporation who promised, and have largely achieved, to take darts truly International and have staged tournaments all over the world, hence the Desert Classic in Las Vegas.
During this time the humble dart has changed quite a lot, they are nearly all made from tungsten these days as tungsten gives weight without the bulk, and that has made 180 scores more likely as they can all fit into the treble 20 easier than the old bulkier brass darts.
And the Dart boards? They have also come on leaps and bounds especially in the last few years. Electronics have arrived; the wooden dart board gave way to the bristle dart board (which still gives the most satisfying thud when the dart hits the board in my opinion), which now is giving way to the electronic dart board. These new boards are simply technological marvels; they keep score for you (a great boon in Cricket) and can be programmed to heckle you when you throw, so you feel like you are back in the bar and the new Halex electronic board even marks out the throw line with a LASER! Well, darts has come a long way from throwing arrows at an archery target!
Finally, in 2005 UK Sport officially recognised darts as a Sport and International recognition soon followed. The image is also now being cleaned up, gone are the beer glasses and cigarettes, and especially in the PDC tournaments, the guys have really cleaned up their act. There is even a possibility that Darts could become an Olympic Sport before long! What would those “Archers” of England who started it all, have thought of the game now. vape