Steel tip darts have a tip made of steel, while soft tip darts have a tip made of plastic. Although, the tip on a soft tip dart is made of plastic, please be aware that it can still put a hole in a wall and/or poke an eye out! Soft tip darts are primarily used with electronic dartboards, while steel tip darts are used with bristle or sisal boards. Surprisingly, there isn’t much difference between steel and soft tip darts when it comes to the rest of the materials they are made of. Soft tips darts tend to be a bit lighter in weight (16 gram-18gram) than steel tip darts (20gram-28 gram).
There are 4 parts to a dart: The point (steel tip or soft tip), the barrel (the part you hold in your hand), the shaft, and the flight. The most common metals used in darts are brass, nickel silver, and tungsten. Brass, the most cost-effective metal, is perfect for the casual home recreational dart thrower. Nickel silver is also cost-effective, but will not tarnish like brass. Tungsten is a denser metal than brass or nickel silver and allows the dart to be heavier in weight while maintaining a smaller mass. Basically, if you had 2 barrels that were the same weight, but one made of brass and the other made of tungsten, the tungsten barrel would 3 times smaller than the brass barrel.
Fortunately, you don’t need a tremendous amount of space to throw darts. The height you mount your dartboard and the distance you stand back from your dartboard will depend on whether you’re throwing steel tip or soft tip darts. When throwing steel tip darts, your board should be mounted 5’8” from the floor to the center of the bull’s-eye. The distance you should stand back from the dartboard to throw is 7’ 9 ¼”. When throwing soft tip darts, your board should be mounted 5’8” from the floor to the center of the bull’s-eye (the same as steel tip darts). The distance you should stand back from the dartboard to throw is 9’ 9 1/2”. Please note that this is measured from the face of the dartboard (not the wall) to the front of the throw line (since most people like to stand on the line itself!).
Bristle and electronic dartboards are both divided into pie-shaped sections numbered 1 to 20 with the center-most section called the bulls-eye. There are two narrow rings traversing the dartboard in a circular pattern. The outer ring counts the number double-score and the inner ring counts the number triple-score. There are two sections to the bull’s-eye: the outer ring is a single bull’s-eye and counts as 25 points, and the inner bulls-eye counts as a double bull or 50 points.
There are several different games that can be played on a dartboard, but the most popular is Cricket. The objective of Cricket is to score 3 of each target number—15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20—and 3 bull’s-eyes. The first person to achieve this (known as closing all the numbers and the bull’s-eye) is the winner.
The best way to protect your walls is to mount your dartboard in a dartboard cabinet or put a wall protector behind your dartboard. Most wall protectors are at least 29”x 29”. For extra protection, some companies now make wall protectors as big as 36” round!