The game of darts can be traced back to ancient Greek warriors who would throw short spears at the upturned ends of wine barrels during the intervals between battles… or so the story goes…
The standard history of darts really begins with the reign of King Henry VIII of England. It is believed that he told his archers to practice their arching skills all year round so they would be sharp and ready for battle at any time. However, instead of instead of shooting, they started throwing their arrows by hand – presumably something that they found “fun.”
It is a fact however that during the middle ages the sport of darts gained some recognition and popularity with men from all walks of life taking an interest, playing the game in the drinking houses that sprang up.
The early darts were much longer than those of today being some 25 cm long. Slices off tree trunks were commonly used as targets as they provided natural sections to aim at with their rings and as they dried out, radial cracks, that developed.
It is well documented that the game was popular with sailors who would use a section off an old mast as a target.
It is also recorded that the game was taken over to America by the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower. As the rules became laid down the game developed solely as an indoor past-time with smaller darts. The barrels were made from wood with a metal point stuck in one end and feathers in the other.
In 1896, a carpenter from Lancashire in England, by the name of Brian Gamlin, invented the dartboard numbering layout of today.
The first paper folded dart flight was patented in 1898 by an American and in 1906 an Englishman patented the first metal barrel.
The World Darts Federation was founded in 1976 by representatives of 15 nations. All National Darts organizing bodies of all nations can become members of the WDF. The function of the WDF is to encourage the sport of darts among the different nations and to also gain international recognition for darts as a major sport.
Even the ancient Greeks didn’t have a Darts Federation! That’s progress!
and finally some darts trivia:
In November of 1989, Tony Jones recorded 28 perfect 180 scores in just one hour and 25 minutes for a charity event in Manchester, England!