Welcome to my beginner’s guide on darts! I have been playing darts for 7 years and am currently part of the University of Manchester Darts society. Although I will not consider myself to be anywhere near a semi-pro level, I believe I have enough knowledge to impart to beginner players and get you interested in the sport.
Do note that I will only talk about STEEL TIP darts, and not SOFT TIP darts. I am well aware that in my home country Singapore, soft tip darts are a lot more popular.
Purchasing your first set of darts
Personally, I do not feel that this is a big factor if you are just starting out. For many years, I have been playing with brass darts because they are the cheapest available. Your throwing technique is so much more important than the darts you use. I suggest that you do not think too much about this and just purchase a set of darts within your budget.
If you are looking to start with more professional darts, I strongly recommend going on Darts Corner UK and look out for Tungsten darts. They can be reasonably priced at around £15-20. I currently use Unicorn Core Plus tungsten darts 21g. Brass darts are not recommended because they have thicker barrels, so this makes grouping darts together more difficult and increases the risk of the dart rebounding out of the board.
The 2 things you want to consider when purchasing darts are the grip and weight. If possible, you should try out different grips and weights to see what you are most comfortable with before purchasing. For me, I prefer darts that have a front grip and weigh 20-22g.
Understanding the game of darts
In this post, I will only cover the game 501, which is the standard format used in professional darts tournaments. You will hear about other dart games that people play like 301, Round the world and Cricket.
The picture above shows the scoring system in darts. The goal of 501 is to be the first player to reduce your score to zero from a starting score of 501. Usually a bull-off is used to determine which player goes first. Each player throws 3 darts at the board during each visit.
To win the game, you need to finish the game by hitting a double, which is either the double ring or double bull. For example: if you are left with a score of 14, you will need to hit the double ring of 7 to end the game (Also known as checking out). If you accidentally hit a single 19 instead, you have “busted” and your score is reverted back to 14.
Focus for a beginner player
For those of you who are completely new to the game, these are the tips I suggest for starting out:
1) Have fun:
I have seen a lot of people give up on darts right after trying it out once. After all, throwing darts at the same board repeatedly sounds very boring does it? Find a sense of purpose in playing darts. The main thing that keeps me going is the drive to become a better player. Playing with friends is also a great idea because you can challenge each other and darts is supposed to be a social activity anyways.
2) Focus on hitting the board:
It is no surprise that you will see absolutely crazy shots from new players. I have seen darts hitting the ceiling and flying out of the window behind the dart board. You might want to start by making sure that all your darts score at the very least.
3) Do not play 501:
I really do not recommend any new player to start playing 501 right away because it will cause a lot of frustration. The goal now is to enjoy the game of darts, but repeatedly missing at the doubles will ruin the experience. I suggest ignoring the rule of finishing on a double if you still intend to play 501.
This is the first piece of a 5-part guide that I will be writing about darts. In the near future, I will be covering more in-depth tips for playing darts and becoming a better player. For now, just get started and have fun!