The game of darts has been around for centuries. Some historians attribute the birth of the game to English soldiers in Medieval times. The soldiers would shorten their arrows from time to time and throw these shortened arrows at the bottom of a wine barrel or a wide tree. It was essentially a drinking game in those days and it remains a popular pub game to this day. Modern darts have a thin base, a steel pointed tip, and some sort of plastic or similar substance which serve as fins.
The dartboard itself is made of 20 segments, numbered 1 through 20, with a bullseye in the middle of the board. Each number also contains two small rectangular scoring sections on each segment. The smallest of the segments, closest to the bullseye, scores triple points and the other rectangular segment scores double points. For example, if a player tosses an 8 but it lands in the small segment closest to the bullseye, the triple score would bring the total to 24.
The dartboard should be set up so that the bullseye is centered at 5 feet, 8 inches (1.72 meters) off the floor. Players toss darts at the board from a tape mark just shy of 8 feet (2.43 meters) away. In a game, each player will toss three darts at the board and then the following player will do the same. After each player has his or her turn, the darts will be removed for the next round of play. As a general rule, a dart must stick to the board for at least five seconds. If it falls off the board prior to that time, the player receives no points for that dart.
There are a number of dart games that can be played. A few of the more popular games are 301 and cricket. In 301, each player starts with 301 points and as the player throws each dart, he subtracts that score from 301. For instance, if a player throws a 15, a 12, and a 7, he can subtract 34 points from 301, giving him a total of 267. The first player to get to zero wins the game. However, a player must hit the exact number to get to zero and end the game. If, for example, a player only has a score of 6 remaining, he must hit either a 6 or some combination therof (4 and 2) to get to zero. A dart thrown at 11, for example, would end the players turn and set the score again at 6.
In cricket, players toss darts only at numbers 15 through 20 and bullseye. While cricket has many varieties, one of the more popular cricket games is simply to hit each number three times to close out that number. The player who closes out all of the numbers (15-20) as well as hitting three bullseyes first wins the game.
Electronic dartboards have also become popular in pubs and homes alike. Here, players throw darts with plastic tips that stick into the board. The score is automatically and electronically displayed above the dartboard, alleviating the need for the chalkboard usually found nearby to keep score.