The 7 Best Electronic Dartboards
A Brief History Of Darts
While no one knows for sure when or how the game of darts was invented, much of the evidence points to the people who are most likely to come up with a fun game to play when you're drunk: bored soldiers.
It's likely that the first darts were actually arrows, since that's what they resemble anyway and dartboards look like the targets used in archery competitions. Some believe that British soldiers would toss these darts at rotting barrels and wagons, which, when they cracked, would leave sections that could easily be used to mark different point totals.
Regardless of who started it and why, the game caught on quickly in England, and many carpenters began to pay their bar tabs by fashioning boards for taverns.
It was one of these woodworkers, a man from Lancashire named Brian Gamlin, who supposedly began to number those boards with the 20-point section at the top. The reasoning behind this was that it would penalize inaccuracy — and it was likely devised by someone who was tired of losing to lucky drunks every time.
Still, darts remained a regional diversion, and each region tended to have its own rules and board layout. Devising the optimal layout has since become a point of contention among mathematicians, but it shouldn't be too hard to find the perfect one, as there are only 121 quadrillion possible arrangements.
The game suffered a serious setback in the early 1900s, however, when England passed legislation forbidding games of chance — which is what darts was considered — from being played in pubs. One heroic pub owner with the fantastic name of Foot Anakin challenged the law, arguing that darts was a game of skill.
To prove this, he threw three darts, planting each on the 20, and challenged court officials to do the same. No one could, and darts was granted an exemption from the law.
The thing that would make the game truly take off, though, is the same thing that helped create it in the first place: bored soldiers. It was a popular diversion for British servicemen in both World Wars, and many veterans continued to play it in pubs when they returned home.
Several governing bodies began to spring up, each offering their own competitions and championships. Some of these even garnered heavy television coverage, and dart contests are still popular programming in England.
Today, you can still get a game of darts going in many bars around the world, although many of the old school boards have been replaced by electronic ones. The important thing, though, is that it's one of the few games that you can play even while blackout drunk.
Benefits Of An Electric Dartboard
If you've ever tried playing darts in a crowded bar, then you're probably already familiar with one of the biggest benefits of electronic boards: they make it much harder to lose an eye.
Since most electronic models use darts with soft plastic tips instead of pointy steel, there's less likely to be an injury in the case of an errant throw. Not only does that make them a smarter choice for the alcohol-fueled, it also makes them more suitable for kids, ensuring that the game can be fun for the whole family.
It's not just eyes and skin that will be safe from accidental punctures, either — your walls will also thank you. If you use steel-tipped darts on a board hung on drywall or wood, you can expect to see many perforations where someone's attempt went awry. That's not an issue with plastic tips.
Many of these boards also score the game automatically, saving you from having to keep tally as you go while also making things easier to grasp for beginners. This can be helpful in preventing arguments — which is something you need to consider if you're around kids or alcoholics.
If you've only ever played regular darts, you might think that switching to an electronic board is heresy. If that's the case, you should probably stick to your old-fashioned board — because once you switch, you may not want to go back.
Taking Your Game To The Next Level
Being good at darts takes time and practice, but it's a great way to make a few bucks — or win a few drinks — at your local pub. Here are a few tips to help you get better fast.
Your grip is the most important part of your game. Hold the dart firmly but lightly — no death grips allowed, as having too much tension in your fingers can make it hard to release the dart fluidly. Try to make sure that the tip is pointing up at each stage of your throw as well.
Use at least three fingers when you hold it. You can use more if you like, as that can improve your control, but you do so at the risk of altering the dart's flight upon letting go. Whichever fingers you're not using should be spread and kept well away from the shaft of the dart.
Next, take a look at your stance (don't do this in the middle of a throw). You want to keep one foot forward, and try to make sure that your dominant eye, the dart, and the target are all in a line.
Put most of your weight on that forward foot, and use the back one primarily for balance. If someone can easily knock you over while you're in your stance, it needs more work (and you need to find a safer bar). You can lean forward as well, as this brings you closer to your target, but don't let your weight get too far in front of your center of gravity.
Take some time to practice and experiment until you find the stance and grip that work best for you, and keep playing until you're satisfied you can hit the bull's eye every time.
Then drink until you see at least two of them.