Score a bull's eye

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 April, 2012, 12:00am


'Darts players are probably a lot fitter than most footballers in overall body strength'

Sid Waddell - British sports commentator

Sport v Game

Is darts a game or a sport? This is a question darts enthusiasts will discuss with anyone who is willing to listen. Does it matter anyway? It does to darts players who want the status of their passion to be clear to others.

To call darts a game is to lessen its status in the eyes of some players. It is a sport involving all the skill, dexterity, training and expertise of competitive sports. But to many, a player throwing small arrows at a round board comes nowhere near to being a sport. Let's consider all the facts, and then you can decide.

Planet Darts

On the face of it, darts seems very simple. It's a type of throwing game in which small arrows are thrown at a round target board fixed to a wall. The point is obviously to score points. Man has always liked throwing things at other things for entertainment or exercise, and the first darts were probably broken arrows thrown at the ends of barrels by bored English soldiers hundreds of years ago.

The origins of darts as a competitive game/sport are obviously found in the ancient sport of archery where arrows are shot at a target from a bow. Take away the bow and just use the hand, make the arrows smaller and bring the target nearer, and you have darts. The earliest versions of the dartboard were divided into coloured circles like a miniature form of the archery target. Darts has taken its time to slowly develop into the game/sport that is popular all over the world today.

Let's throw!

As well as being a professional competitive sport, darts is also a game thousands of people play in their backyard, sports centre or anywhere where a board can be fixed to a wall and throwing a dart doesn't pose danger! Darts are lethal if thrown in the wrong direction.

You need three things for a game of darts: a dartboard, a set of three darts and a player. A good dartboard is made from sisal fibre. A regulation board is 451mm in diameter and is divided into 20 radial sections. Each section is separated by thin metal wire. Around the edge of the board there is a number for each section. Circular wires subdivide each section into single, double and triple areas. Right in the middle is the bull and the bull's eye. The bull's eye is the red inner circle. The expression 'bull's eye' means to hit a target exactly right.

Double six

There are many games that can be played on a dartboard, but 'darts' usually refers to a game where the player throws three darts per turn at the board with the aim of reducing a fixed score, usually 501 or 301, to zero with the final dart landing in the bull's eye.

A game of darts is usually played between two players or two teams, who take it in turns to throw their three darts. A player has to stand behind a line 236.86cm from the board. Do you fancy your chances of becoming World Darts Champion? The Darts World Grand Prix is held in Ireland every October.

Word Power

Now you know all about darts. Find the words in the article with the following meanings.

1 a person who is very interested and involved in a particular activity (n)

2 a high level of knowledge or skill (n)

3 to win a point or goal in a game or a particular mark in an examination (vb)

4 an accepted position in a social group (n)

5 something you aim for or work hard to achieve (n)

6 the ability to perform a difficult action quickly and skilfully (n)

7 extremely dangerous (adj)

8 a particular form of something that differs slightly from other forms of the same thing (n)


1. an enthusiast, 2. expertise, 3. to score, 4. status, 5. a target, 6. dexterity, 7. lethal, 8. a version