The first recorded game being played in Dartford, hence the name. The dartboard has a distinct resemblance to the cross section of a tree trunk and the old term used for the first type of dartboard was butt, because the bottom of wine barrels or butts were used. It probably stems from the french word of butte meaning target.
The game was established in England back in the Middle Ages at a time when soldiers used the bottom of wine barrels to throw short arrows at, seeing who could get closest to the bung.As usual some genius (there’s always one around somewhere) came up with the idea of using a cross-section of a tree, the rings on it making it easier to determine who was closest to the middle. In 1530 Anne Boleyn presented Henry VIII with a set of ornate darts showing that the game had become more widespread during the medieval period.
In 1844 there was a version of darts called Puff and Dart where a blowpipe was used to fire a dart at a target, but a London dart blower made a mistake and sucked instead of blowing unfortunately leading to his death.Hockey ; sons brewery firm were recorded for creating the throwing line rule, and used three foot beer crates lined up, making the throwing distance nine feet. Later shortened to eight feet as the crates got smaller, this measurement is often still used but the standard one is now 7’9 1/4″. This line is named Hockey, after the brewery, later shortened to oche pronounced ockee. ‘ In 1908 a pub owner called William Anakin from Yorkshire was prosecuted for allowing gambling.In order to protest his innocence he set a dartboard up in the courtroom and challenged them to throw 3 darts in the 20 area, they could not do it and had to admit that it was a game of skill, not chance, so not illegal. At this time the game was referred to as Dart and Target and although the board did have coloured circles, doubles and trebles didn’t exist until a later date.
Darts began to get more popular as a pub game and competitions started to be introduced, one of the notable ones being organised by the News of the World in 1927, by the 1930s there were over 200,000 competitors.In 1954 the National Darts Association was formed and championships began. The Americans got the game from the British during the war, when they visited Britain and found almost every pub had a dart board. In the 1980s the game was televised, breweries and cigarette companies sponsoring, giving the sport a bigger cash flow. The first televised 9-Dart game was in 1984, and made John Lowe $175,000 richer for it. In 2005 UK sport officially recognised darts as a Sport, followed shortly with International recognition.
Could the Olympics be next?The dart itself has changed from flint pointed to brass to tungsten, a lot easier and less bulky to fit all three in the triple 20. The board changed from wood to bristle and is now giving way to the electronic dartboard, which keeps score for you (mathematical geniuses no longer required. ) The Halex electronic board can mark your throw line with a laser, bit different from the old beer crate. Brian Gamlin is the man who devised the modern day numbering system, he was a carpenter from Lancashire in England and he invented this frustrating number system in 1896 but he died in 1903 before he could patent the idea.It is designed to stop lucky shots and reduce the element of chance and punish inaccuracy, meaning that if you are aiming for a score of 20 the numbers either side of this are 1 and 5 so if you are not accurate you will be punished with a low number. Did you also know that the nickname for the left hand side of the board is Married Man’s side’ because they always play safe and of course the bigger numbers are on the left side?