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Buying darts

Here is a checklist of what you should pay attention to when you shop for a set of darts.

  1. The supermarket or IKEA are not proper places for buying darts. Some of these facilities sell darts (steel and soft) now and then, often combined with boards. In 99 percent of all cases this stuff is just plainly useless. If it's soft then the boards tend to have weird dimensions and poor quality (segments will break often with no replacement available). If it is steel then the boards are often paper boards which only last for a couple of darts. The darts supplied with these packages are the cheapest things possible, and in this case cheap doesn't mean low price, it means worthless.

    Find a shop that has specialized in darts. If you can't find such a shop then look for a fisherman, hunting or weapon shop. Sometimes these facilities sell dart stuff (at least in Europe), and if they have a board where you can try their darts then you are in business. Pubs and bars where darts is played are also possible places to buy darts.

  2. Take enough time to try different darts. You should spend at least 1 hour for trying different shapes/weights. If the shop doesn't give you this opportunity then it isn't a good shop.

  3. When trying the darts don't judge by what you are hitting with them. Only judge by how the dart is feeling. This is important because when you are trying new darts it is very likely that you are more concentrated and careful than usual. This will result in better hits, but it's not because the dart is so good.

  4. When trying different darts then first try a couple of darts and make a first preselection. For instance, try new sets of darts that look promising. Don't forget to try darts that look very odd for you, or shapes different from the ones you are used to! Prejudice is not the best thing when you are shopping for a new set of darts, you might find the perfect set where you wouldn't have expected it. One you have filtered out about 4 "candidates" you should go on further examining them, filtering half of them out. Then you have 2 sets left to decide which one to buy (most probably this will be the same dart in two adjacent weights).

  5. If you can't get sure which set to buy then buy none of them, not both. If you find it unpleasant to tell the shopkeeper that you won't buy anything after he patiently assisted you in your 2-hour session at the shop then buy a couple of shafts or flights you'll need anyway sooner or later. I'm not the one who suggests to fool around in the shop trying all sorts of darts only to buy them later via mail order where they are 5 percent cheaper. I don't think this is fair. In long term this will only kill your round-the-corner dart shop which will hurt you more when you discover that you are out of shafts the day before that deciding league match of the season.

  6. When trying darts bring your usual flights and shafts with you and try with your normal setup. If this is your first set then use middle length shafts and standard flights (this combo is usually the standard supply in the box of each set).

  7. Never buy a dart only because it looks so good. Never buy a dart you haven't tried before. This is the strongest point against buying darts by mail order. Of course, if you desperately want this one set of your teammate you had that numerous 180s with the last night, then mail order is okay. But consider point 2. here.

  8. Once you have chosen a set examine the threads for compatibility to standard shafts and tips.

  9. Check if the barrels of your chosen set have the same weight! This is very important! A good shop must be equipped with scails. Darts should be within 2/10 of a gram. E.g. a set with 22.1 gr, 22,2 gr and 22.3 gr is acceptable for a "22gram" set. A set with 21.8, 22.0 and 22.2 is not. You should do this check for every set you buy, no matter how expensive it is. Some of the well-known companies give you a guarantee that the darts are within a certain weight range (Unicorn for instance guarantees within a third of a percent), but this doesn't mean the set actually is within that range! The guarantee only says that the darts are replaced when you discover a weight range outside the guarantee.

  10. Money should not be an argument. Buy what suits you, not what's expensive. Expensive doesn't necessarily mean better (only exception is movable tip darts for steel tip). If you like that $10 set buy it. If it's the $100 set that feels best, then get it if your wallet allows.

  11. When looking for your first dart board buy a bristle board. Manufacturer doesn't really matter for your first board. "Bristle Board" is the key phrase. Your first bristle board will guide you at least through the first year of dart practicing. Whether you combine it with a fine dart cabinet or place it on the kitchen door is up to you, but you should look for a chalk board of any kind. As long as it's a bristle board there is no problem getting one via mail order.

At all costs avoid the cheap paper boards that are sold mainly in supermarkets. If you are playing with the recommended 22-25 gram darts on this board it won't survive the first week.