English Pub Darts.
The traditional English pub type darts game that was carried over to America by European settlers had its origins in archery practice where the bottom of a barrel was used as the target. The shortened version of the arrow was more convenient to use in the pub so that when it was raining the archers could continue to “sharpen their eye” in comfort.
A barrel would be awkward to hang on a wall so a slice of a tree trunks was substituted. This has natural growth lines and tends to crack into segments on drying and this led to the present darts board pattern of doubles, trebles, bull and sections numbered one to twenty.
It wasn’t long before everyone wanted to play this fun game, archer or not, and its popularity spread all over the country. The Pilgrims on the Mayflower passed the long hours of their voyage playing darts and helped to carry the game to their new home.
Native Americans and darts.
Native American peoples played a kind of darts made from two feathers stuck through a corn husk and aimed a ring. Commonly called the Wheel and Dart game. It has many variations using diverse materials and rules. Some hoops are made from corn husks others a simple loop formed from a slender branch.
The object is to land inside the loop and gain a point. Sometimes the loops are rolled by a helper to add to the difficulty. This game would most likely have evolved from the everyday task of hunting – allowing the young men to practice their aiming skills with bow and lance.
The Inuits and Darts. The Inuit peoples have a traditional dart-like game where they make a dart called a “niortut” made from a piece of caribou antler with a point of bone. This developed from an ice-piercing tool. It is balanced on the forehead and the head tilted forward to drop it onto the target object on the ground or snow. Nearest wins.
Development of Darts.
The formal rules, and terms such as “oche”, we know and play with today began to take shape about the beginning of the twentieth century. This standardization has led to darts tournaments in most countries and a World Championship with the commonest game being “501”.
With the digital age, darts games are now common as downloadable software or to play online. The methods of “throwing” the dart varies a lot but most calculate scores and some offer “professionals” to play against.
© 2007 William Clark