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The Complete History of Dart Game: From 14th Century to 2021

Do you wonder how you do your favorite game came into being? From where and how it came into existence? If still, you haven’t given it a thought till date then start thinking and explore a bit about it. Well, my favorite is Darts, so today I have decided to dwell into the origin or darts and share all the interesting information with you guys here!

So let’s start with the very basic idea that is the origin of darts!

The first question that pops up in our mind is who invented dartboards when it comes to playing darts? Well its quite funny but you will find it surprising that the old name for a dartboard is “butt”; the comes from the French historic words jargon but, meaning target.

The man who was credited for the invention of dartboard was BRAIN GAMLIN. GAMLIN was a carpenter from Bury in the country of Lancashire, England and came up with the infuriating sequence in 1896, at the age of 44. He died in 1903 before he got the patent for his work.

However, the history goes back very far. Darts began as the military pastime originating in England during the 14th century.

As this game is originated from London, so it holds a special place in the minds and hearts of the citizens of London. Surprisingly, this is not the first game that is vanishing from the pubs of London.

Early Days of Darts

The next question
is how old is the game of darts?

The answer to this question is quite surprising is that: This game is about 700 years old, but I would like to bring into your knowledge is that it was there in the world long before that in some other form of games like throwing arrows on the tree trunks, tables or even throwing knives and swords. So you can imagine how old this game and there are various versions of the dart’s history and the stories associated with it. Adding to that, this game was also played in the pubs of the United Kingdom before the 1st world war. They had dartboards that were made from the solid blocks of wood, usually elm.

However, these Elm dartboards were having two common problems. First one was that the darts broke very easily on that and the other one was that they had to be soaked in order to keep the wood soft.

Therefore, Darts would progressively change over hundreds of years until the turn of the 19th century when it began to approximate the game we all know and love.

Later, One of the new companies in that era named Nodor, initiated modeling clay which was odorless, and therefore, the name Nodor started making clay dartboards in 1923 from clay modeling technique. But it didn’t receive much popularity, so they eventually had to switch to the elm dartboards. These were the traditional dartboards that were quite popular at that time.

Then In 1935, the chemist Ted Leggatt and the pub owner Frank Dabbs began using the century plant, a type of agave, to make new dartboards. Small bundles of sisal fibers of the same length were assembled together.

The bundles were then compressed to change it into a disk and tight it with a metal ring. This later got good popularity among the people instantly. As the darts did no or very little damage to the dartboard. This type of dartboard was considered to be more reliable and much easier to repair and also required little maintenance.

In the late 1970s the companies devised and started producing electronic dartboards. These dartboards were having an electronic scoring mechanism and were preprogrammed for multiple dart games.

These helped the spectators to identify where the player has thrown the dart. The board was made of plastic facings with small holes. The holes slant out, allowing the plastic tips to stick on to the board.

The soft-tipped darts and automated boards greatly increased the game’s popularity in the United States.

Enough said for dartboard now let’s discuss Darts…

Initially, the darts were made from the piece of wood. They were simply cut down arrows or crossbow bolts. Cross arrows and wrapped with a strip of lead for weight and fitted with flights made from split turkey feathers.

These darts were mainly imported from France and commonly known as French darts. Later, the Metal barrels were introduced in 1906’s but wooden darts were still used till the 1950’s. The first metal barrels were made from brass that was easy and economical to use. This type of darts continued until the 1970s.

From the Royal Courts to the London pubs

As we all know, the dart game is becoming popular at an astonishing rate. This fact should not come up with a surprise to anyone who has never experienced the throwing of darts. Dart is a pure sport with quite simple rule sets and terminologies that belies the tactical and mechanical hidden depths found in it.

The setup required for playing game of darts is uncomplicated regardless of anyone having physical shape and fitness levels can jump in and play darts. These friendly characteristics make darts popular among all ages and also it is widely spreading across the isle of Britain to the point that even the nobility began partaking in it.

Another aspect of playing darts is that Nobles were fond of using small-sized darts than the commoners and the soldiers. Nineteenth-century was considered important for the dissemination of various versions of this game.  At this point, the game had not yet consolidated and got organized in an official manner around the world.

Later, various scoring systems were employed across the world however even then no standard rules were established in accordance. Nevertheless, during 1800’s the game began to gain the momentum and reached the levels of popularity which were never achieved before.

With this highlighted popularity there came a wave of innovation and this is for the first time that the proper numbering system was introduced and darts came in more developed versions The development of numbering system can be attributed with being one of the most impactful changes to the game of darts, and through it, the game got even more recognition and eventually renowned as an official sport.

The modern numbering system around the circumference of the dartboard is as follows:


From A Hobby To A Professional Level Globally

With modernization within each industry, the sports industry is also becoming very modern. The sports industry also became upgraded and the world’s first dart association was come into being 1974, by the representatives of the fourteen founding members. The worlds dart federation (WDF) is the official world sport governing body and along with the PDC tournament organizer for the game of darts. Membership is open for all nations to the national organizing body for darts.

1st championship

The first organized championship was held in the 1920s. The establishment of national darts association was set up in 1924. But by the year 1939, almost three hundred thousand people signed up for the yearly news of World Championship.

The first World’s Championship was held in the “heart of Midlands” nightclub in Nottingham before moving to the Jollee’s Club Stoke-on-Trent where it remained until 1985. But from 1985 the darts finals were held at Lakeside complex Firmley Green, Surrey. This championship served as the basis for the dartboard as a status for international indoor sports.

Darts in the twentieth century

In the twentieth century the game of darts filled with controversy. Historical records show that in the year 1908 a pub owner in the town of Leeds was taken to the court. He was adjudicated for allowing his customers for playing darts in his establishment.

Well here’s is a historic illustration of a man who is actually removing the darts from the board as he prepares for the next game in an English pub of ancient times -© Time Inc.

The argument was that the dart is the game of chance, which was illegal at the time. This story tells that the pub owner brought “William bigfoot” Annakin with a dartboard in his hand. Mr.Annakin was a famous dartboard player and he has to throw 20 darts in a single segment and if they stick to the board he will be released and if he fails to do so then he will be punished for this act.  Needless to say the case was dismissed and the rest is history.

Darts as a Pastime game

In Second World War darts were played by troops almost before the hundreds of years of emulating the origin of this sport. History says that when the soldiers found any respite from the War they began to play darts anywhere and anytime. Even so and so, The Navy, Air force and Army was issuing the darts in their sports pack.

It was during WWII that the Americans were impressed by the game and tried to adopt and disseminated the game towards their home country. Later, in the decades of 1950s and 1960s, the game achieved significant levels of participation in an organized format from the official dart organization country-wide. The national dart association of Great Britain took up the task of organizing leagues at local as well as at national level. This came into existence in 1954.

First-ever television premier

Although, the first dart game on aired on national television in 1936, that had quite a limited audience. Later in the year 1972, the news of the world dart championship was broadcasted by the independent television channel to a great authority.

By the 80s as it gained popularity among the people and television started broadcasting this game. Many young and talented players got instant fame and success. Children started recognizing them on the streets. Names like Lees, Wilson, and Lazarenko became the topics of discussion on dining tables.

Era of Modern darts

When the British dart organization parted with several high profile players who were not very contented and happy with the way in which the National Championships were being established. This was considered as the first significant organizational split of the sport that occurred in 1992.

This split resulted in the foundation of the Worlds Dart Council or the Professional Dart Corporation that is known today.

Both of these organizations have done tremendous work in the integration of the dart game as they are the drivers of this game by transforming the status into a functional game with millions of dollars invested and drawn from sponsorship against the dart games.

The latest world dart championship was held in late 2018 and that was the 26th championship up till now. It was organized by the professional dart organization as it was a separate entity from the British dart organization. The event took place at Alexandra Palace which is in London dated 13th of December 2018 that stretched to  1st January 2019.

This is an illustration of the first electronic dartboard display at  Alexandra Palace

Which Is The Best World Dart Championship?

PDC World Darts Champions

Year Winner Runner-up
2019 Michael van Gerwen Michael Smith
2018 Rob Cross Phil Taylor
2017 Michael van Gerwen Gary Anderson
2016 Gary Anderson Adrian Lewis

What Future Darts Hold?

Well, when we talk about the future of darts specifically, one thing that clicks into our mind is modern technology and its integration in the sports industry, and so is the case with darts! Therefore, the potential now exists for the development of remote sensing scoring for darts and the more advance dart games with the latest hardware and software updates. Also, many attempts have been made for this purpose but none have yet been completely successful. however, It is likely to be a matter of time.

Wrapping it up!

The extraordinary recognition of this game surely does make sense with the true fact that realistically it’s too handy and yet considered a healthy activity as it needs a full strength of arm. However, Mind alertness is also imperative for throwing darts as we have to throw a dart on the particular aim. So hand and mind coordination is a must!

Also, it’s no surprise that there are certain rumors about giving this sport the Olympic status as darts have already come along through a very long journey from its humble medieval beginnings.