In August I had this weird notion that we ought to get a dart board and start flinging some darts. I have never thrown darts, but I figured we could nail a target up in the basement and give it a try. When we went to buy the board, hubby balked at paying $50.00 for a board that we might not use all that often, but was persuaded that we should give it a try.
We got the board and a couple of cheap sets of darts. We thought that we might hang it on the front door which is metal and would withstand any errant darts. That was until we looked at the rules for how high the dart board had to be positioned (5 feet. 8 inches from floor to the center of the bull's-eye) and how far away from the firing line, called the oche (7 feet 9.25 inches). The height meant that we would be aiming through the light fixture in the hallway, so that relegated it to the unfinished basement with concrete walls and floors.
We hung the target in the only bare spot in the basement and started throwing darts. My first few throws bounced off the cement wall and landed on the concrete floor because I wasn't throwing hard enough and every other throw, the flights, those colourful things at the top, popped off. I know I have horrible aim and I didn't want to fire wildly with great force and break something. But I persisted and every now and then I actually hit the board. LOL To protect the walls, we put styrofoam around the board which I quickly peppered with enough holes that it started disintegrate, so the foam was replaced with half inch plywood. Please note that all these puncture marks are mine.
We started with the cheap brass darts weighing about 20 grams that were about $10.00 a set, The flights, kept popping off every other throw, so hubby used epoxy glue to hold them on. That was OK, until he got good enough to put the a lot of darts close together which caused him to put the steel tip through the flight or down into the tip of the shaft already in the board.and eventually broke the plastic shafts. It's something they call a Robin Hood because you actually splitting the dart that's already on the board. Since they were glued together, we needed to replace both the shafts and the flights.
We replaced the plastic shafts with aluminum shafts which were not only more durable, but the flights didn't pop off with every throw. It was while we were buying the new shafts that we found a slightly heavier 24 gram brass dart, which hubby liked much better. He also liked transparent flights that let him see through the dart to the target below. That's important when you get them grouped together like he does and can't see the target underneath.
We watched some of the pros on You Tube and noticed that their darts were much thinner which made it easier to put several side by side in the narrow triple spots, so we investigated and bought some more expensive tungsten darts for roughly $50.00 a set. I got a set at 22 grams with a scalloped barrel that made it easy to hold the dart in the same position for each throw. My sweetie got a front weighted set at 26 grams which he liked a lot more except for his Robin Hood problem and when he broke even the aluminum shafts, we started looking for other options.
Of course I was still hitting the plywood backing and bouncing the darts onto the cement floor...so we bought a whole bunch of those interlocking foam mats with a wood grain pattern on one side. The floors are more comfortable to stand on for long hours and the darts aren't getting blunted from bouncing on the concrete, they just stick in the foam rubber. Yes, I did say hours. We've been practicing throwing darts for an hour or two almost every day since we bought the first board.
We also invested in a 5000 lumen work light to spot light the dart board as hubby insists we need a brightly lit area just like the pros. (Who's he kidding? I'm bouncing darts off ceilings, walls and floors which makes me as far from professional as you can get.) Of course the new light means wiring in a new outlet on the ceiling for it... which put the power switch out of reach, so a new light switch was required as well.
Meanwhile, I'm still having trouble just hitting the board. My darts are dropping out of the air before they reach the target and after watching a bunch of professional tournaments on You Tube, I'm persuaded that my darts are still too light. The brass ones were 20 grams and the tungsten ones were 22 grams and my sweetie is breaking the shafts on his making the darts unusable.
Off we went in search of heavier darts and a solution to someone who consistently imitates Robin Hood. We had to travel quite a bit to find a games store that dealt with darts and the clerk who assisted us asked about what we were looking for and then had us try out a whole pile of different darts.
The set that I liked were 95% tungsten, 26 grams, slim, elegant and perfectly balanced as well as gorgeous, but with a price tag of $179.00. Get this, I'm bouncing darts off the walls and floors, but I'm still willing to fork over a couple hundred bucks for this set of darts. They came with plastic shafts that just don't hold the flights tightly and after my sweetie Robin Hooded his darts, I want metal shafts on all my darts, so I changed the shafts and since they were so pretty, I opted for nicer looking flights as well. All told, I spent about $200 for a set of darts. Is that crazy, or what?
Hubby went for a set that was a hefty 34 grams but only a $95.00 price tag, Then he went for Fit Flights which have special shafts and one piece shaped flights the fit over top of the shaft. Your can't damage the shaft because the flight fits over top of the shaft instead if fitting down into it. The flights spin out of the way when hit and deflect the dart away from the shaft so he can't Robin Hood them as easily, which added another $25.00 to the cost. You can Robin Hood them, but it isn't easy and the flight is usually OK even if it gets pierced.
Then we looked at the dart boards. We first bought a basic wired board and even though we'd only been playing for a few weeks, we'd hit the wires and bounced darts off them repeatedly, and the wire was starting to pop out in places. The better boards use really fine, embedded, knife edge wires, so of course we had to upgrade. Then they had really neat LED light rings that went around the board to light it up which hubby was persuaded would make it easier to see the target. The bill for the new darts, new board, new lights and upgraded shafts and flights came to over $500.
The end result? We spent probably close to $1,000.00 on darts, boards and related paraphernalia. Before August this year I had never thrown a dart and now we're spending more than an hour a day flinging them. I still can't hit worth beans but we're all getting a laugh out of all of the times I bounce a dart off the ceiling and into the target. Yesterday my second dart fell out, just as I threw my third dart and knocked it into the bulls-eye.
Trying to get the dart high enough to score 20 I keep aiming higher and often bounce the darts off of the duct work in the ceiling. Surprisingly enough the ricocheted darts do land on the target and as often as not they hit the 20 even occasionally hitting the triple 20. I don't think I'm getting any better at playing darts, but I'm certainly good for a laugh as we all marvel at how 2 out of 3 miss the target entirely and the 3rd ends as a bulls-eye!
We spent a lot of money on these toys, but we're certainly getting a lot of use out of them. Darts anyone?