Dartboard Buying Guide:
What Kind of Board Should I Buy?
The pub game of darts is one of the most popular games in the world! With a gentle learning curve and dozens of games to choose from, they can be great for a night in with your partner or for an all out party with your best friends!
Darts is the great game that anyone can play. Regardless of your age, shape, size, physical ability or athletic prowess- the game of darts requires none of those to be competitive. Just the ability to throw a pointed object at a round board and hope it lands where you want it to!
So where do we start? With a game as popular as darts, there are literally 1000’s of options for almost any desire one might have for their new game. So let’s take a look at the options and see what works best for you!
There are a few different styles of dart boards out there but for the purpose of this article we are going to focus on bristle and electronic boards. Magnetic, cork and paper boards, although fun, are made more as toys for children.
Electronic Dart Boards
Also referred to as ‘soft tip’ darts, because the tips are commonly made from plastic, electronic dartboards can be great for beginners and advanced players alike.
Made from multiple plastic segments over electronic sensors, the board surface itself is composed of thousands of little holes, in the segments, for the darts to strike and stick. Once the dart sticks to the board, a score is counted corresponding to where the dart entered and the dart is counted as being thrown.
One major advantage of an electronic board is that it will keep score for you. This cuts down on the time that it takes to play a game and also eliminates player mathematical errors. The automatic scoring can also make it easier for the beginner to understand how the game is played and how scores are kept.
Ideal for bar locations and league like events, electronic dartboards are also great for large groups of players. Player prompts keep the games moving at a consistent pace and features like bilingual abilities, as well as handicap options, keep the playing field level for different players.
Electronic boards can be often damaged by the darts over time. Although made to stand up to the use and abuse of heavy play, after years of darts hitting the controls and displays, components will gradually start to break, depending on the game. Keep this in mind if you think the board will get heavy use.
Another option for business owners is to get an electronic coin-operated dartboard. This adds another form of revenue for the business and they are typically more inviting/attractive to the novice dart player.
Electronic dart boards also come preloaded with dozens of different dart games providing hours of fun, even if you’re just beginning!
Bonus Dart Tip: Twisting the dart as you remove it from the board will prevent damage to your board and require less effort.
Sometimes referred to as ‘boar bristle’ or ‘cork’ (which they are not), these boards are what most people think of when discussing the game of darts. With bristle boards, steel tipped darts are most commonly used, however, some players do play with soft tips.
You’ve probably seen these in pubs or bars that feature darts as a main activity. Usually used for tournament play, bristle boards are strongly preferred by purist dart throwers and professionals as well.
Bristle, which refers to the fiber that is cultivated from the sisal plant, consists of many tiny fibers bound together tightly, forming the board. Bristle boards are naturally self-healing: meaning the darts don’t damage the board when you pull them out, because the fibers close back together. This adds to the longevity of the board.
With bristle dart boards, after you’ve owned and played your board for a while, various segments will start to show uneven wear. This is why most bristles will also feature a movable number ring. This allows the owner to rotate the ring every so often to ensure the board is wearing evenly. This feature keeps your board looking better, longer!
Bristle dartboards offer the classic dart aesthetic and also please the serious dart players that might wander into your home or business.
Bonus: Dart terminology
Bounce Out: When a dart is thrown and meant to go into the dartboard but hits a wire or other hard surface of the board and bounces out. This dart is counted as a throw and no score is counted.
Dart Board Wiring
The wiring on the board that separates the point segments is commonly referred to as the ‘spider’. This seemingly insignificant piece of metal (with a creepy name) can make a huge difference in the play of your board.
Lower-end models will typically have a tubular or rounded wire that separates the segments, whereas more expensive boards will have angled wires or the wire will be extremely thin and imbedded into the bristle itself. The point of having angled or imbedded wiring is to prevent bounce-outs that are caused when a dart hits a wire in the board.
Most boards will come with darts included. Usually soft tips for the electronic and steel for the bristle dartboard. Darts can vary quite a bit depending on the manufacturer and what the player in question is looking for in a set of darts.
There are 4 components to a dart: tip, barrel, shaft and flight. The dart tip is obviously the part that pierces the board, the dart barrel is where one normally grips the dart while throwing and the dart shaft and dart flight aid in the dart’s travel from your hand to the dart board. Some soft tipped darts will have the dart barrel, dart shaft and dart flight all as one piece.
Darts can also come in different weights. Soft can range from 14-20 grams and steel from 18-26 grams. Take this into account when trying-out or ordering new darts. A matter of a few grams can make a big difference if it isn’t what you’re used to using.
Steel tips are known to be more dangerous and damaging than soft tipped darts, however, a soft tipped dart can also go through drywall or seriously injure another player as well. Soft tips also break regularly, so tip replacement is a continuing effort.
Some steel tipped darts also have ‘moveable points’, meaning that the steel tip is spring loaded. This makes it so if the tip hits a wire or staple in the board it has less of a chance of bouncing out. These can save you the headache of bounce outs but they also tend to be more expensive and are prone to breaking.
Shafts and flights are a completely subjective matter when it comes to darts. Dart flights come in countless shapes and sizes with a never-ending array of designs and logos. Each has its own specific design to help better your style of throw.
Dart shafts are usually pretty standard but can get pretty wild as well, with built-in flight spinners and other various designs.
Bonus Dart Tip: Turn off all lighting on board when not in use. Heat generated from the lights will cause your board to dry out over time.
Although many boards come with limited accessories and supplied darts, there are countless additions for your board and your game room!
The dart throw line marks where you are required to throw from, per regulation. Usually provided as a large decal, these are available in every color of the rainbow and there are even gadgets that will project the line onto the floor of your location!
Many businesses, as well as homes, will purchase a cabinet for the board to be mounted inside. This offers several benefits from easy storage for darts and other accessories to protecting the wall from errant darts. Many cabinets also add to the decor of the location, sometimes featuring a favorite sports team or adult beverage brand. Lastly cabinets also feature scoreboards on either door, eliminating the need for a separate scoring mechanism or writing surface.
Some owners will also purchase a Dart Mat to protect their floor from bounce outs or short throws. Some dart mats also have built-in throw lines as well, eliminating the need for another accessory.
Serious throwers and amateurs alike both enjoy the convenience and flair of a good case for their darts.
Dart cases make it easy to keep track of all of your parts and tools for your darts as well as keeping them all together in a nice little package. With hundreds of options, there is a dart case for almost every personality!
As you can see there are a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to dartboards and accessories but the best part is that it’s all up to you! We hope this helps you in your quest for the perfect dartboard and if you have any questions at all, feel free to give us a call or stop into our beautiful showroom!