How to Play Darts

It's easy to learn how to play darts. The equipment consists of three darts per person, a choice of electronic or regular dart boards and a toe line 7 feet, 9 ¼ inches from the dart board. You also need a scoring board to mark the players' scores after a throw. Knowing the parts of a dart is helpful. The dart tip is usually sharp and attaches to the shaft. The tail end of the dart is called the "flight." The shaft is where you grip the dart to send it toward the dart board, aimed at your target. Darts come in a variety of materials, from plastic to aluminum. After a little target practice, you're ready to learn the basic rules.

Before The First Turn
Each player stands behind the toe line and throws one dart at the dartboard to determine who will take the first turn. This is the only time two players' darts will be on the board simultaneously. The player whose dart lands in the highest scoring space gets the first turn. Darts must remain in the board for at least five seconds to count. However, an electronic dart board that registers a score is considered valid.

How To Play
On your turn, throw your three darts one after the other. Add your score based on the sum of the numbers you hit on the target. Pay attention to double scoring spaces so you can be accurate. Record your score, and take back your darts. Then it is your opponent's turn.

Keeping Score
The 501 and the 301 game are the versions most often played. The longer game will be 501, as the players will begin the game with 501 points and subtract the total score from each turn until a player reaches zero and wins. Hitting one of the larger segments on the dart board earns you the number corresponding to that segment. If you hit one of the outer narrow bands, the score for that segment is doubled. If you hit one of the inner narrow bands, the score for that segment is tripled. Hitting the bulls' eye equals 50 points, and hitting the outer ring of the bulls' eye equals 25 points. Zero must be reached exactly by means of a double-scoring space on the final throw in order to win. This is called "doubling-out."

The 301 game is shorter, but players don't begin scoring until a throw has "doubled." Doubling means the dart is stuck in any double-scoring space, which is one of the outer narrow bands on the dart board. This includes the bullseye. Scoring begins when a player has doubled-in, and the other player needs to double-in as well in order to begin scoring. Conceivably, one player could start subtracting points for one or more turns before the other player has an official start, giving that first player an advantage. That and the doubling-out rule makes 301 a more challenging game, although shorter than the 501 game.

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