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Why I Play Darts

by Paul Arnold
March 2008

"Even though I've been playing darts for so long I still get the same buzz I did when I was a kid and hit my first ever treble twenty."

It's like I've told the funniest joke in the world. Laughter and general amusement are the reactions I get when I first tell people that I play darts on a regular basis. When I add that it's one of the most thrilling, exciting and absorbing sports around, their howls turn gale force. Sadly most people don't even recognize the beautiful game as a sport yet it takes years of practice at the oche to become anywhere near competent. Sure anyone can throw a dart and get a decent score, just like anyone can kick a football or pot a snooker ball, but to consistently hit a high scoring narrow target over a throwing distance of more than two metres requires great skill and stamina.

I've been playing darts for around thirty years, getting my first set when I was 7. They were green plastic cheapies from a local supermarket that I would chuck into a paper board hung on the back of our garage door. I then graduated to a set of brass-barrelled darts which I quickly got rid of on account of them being too clunky and heavy for me. It was like I was throwing some mini dumbbells at the board. I now play with straight barrel smooth grip nickel tungsten darts, weighing in at a slight 21 grams each.

Even though I've been playing for so long I still get the same buzz I did when I was a kid and hit my first ever treble twenty. It's that joy that I want to capture every time I see an arrow go exactly where I want it, and it's the most seductive aspect of the game. Second to that is the amazing mathematical ability it has given me. I'm sure the fact that I did so well with numbers at school was down to my lightning ability to calculate a check-out, never being at a loss as to what my next shot would be. Perhaps darts should be on the school curriculum?

I used to play for my local district when I was a teenager and competed in several prestigious tournaments. At that time of my life I would practice for about four hours every day. Sadly with the onset of age and responsibilities such as earning a living I don't play nearly as much as I would like to. I currently turn out for a pub side. We're in the first division and usually finish about half way up the table. I try and practice for an hour each week in the back bedroom but because I have wooden floors all the wires have been taken off the dart board to eliminate bounce outs. This can cause a few rows when mates come round to play as it's sometimes hard to see if a dart has landed in a double or not. I don't mind too much, at least my floor is preserved.

My favourite dart games are the ones I play at home to sharpen my accuracy. I go round the board on doubles or trebles as quickly as I can or I play down from 501, but only the bulls-eye or the 25' can score. Despite the thousands of hours I've stood at the oche there are still things I want to achieve and master. Whist I've hit countless ton eighties' and several bulls-eyes in a row, I've never checked-out on 170. For me it's my Holy Grail. If you take the sport seriously you'll never stop learning or improving.

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