Darts and dartboards are descendent from archery targets.
Of course, they had to be scaled down for indoor play, but the earliest dartboard designs were essentially the same as the targets that inspired them: concentric circles and a bullseye.
Over the centuries, both the game of darts and the dartboard have gone through many variations to become what we know today.
The history is somewhat uncertain, but the earliest versions of the game are said to be invented in France. Historians point to two versions of the game, Javelot – a game played with foot-long, feathered darts thrown underhand – and Flechettes – a similar game played with much smaller projectiles. In both, an archery style target of concentric rings was used.
Later, a game known as “puff and dart” became popular, where players used something like a blow gun to shoot small darts at a diamond shaped numbered board. Again, the history is murky here, but it’s thought that the combination of these two styles of target led to a segmented, round, numbered target.
Variations of the numbered boards were common in the late 1800s and early 1900s, including such types as the Grimsby Board, The Rochester Board, multiple variations of the London Board (and the London Fives Board), and on and on. There have numerous iterations of the dartboard throughout history, and as the game gained popularity around England, different regions were using different styles of dartboard – as indicated by their names.
The dartboards we know today – often called a trebles board – are ultimately a variation on the London Board, with features drawn from other regional boards.
The numbering was standardized, the inner ring from one of the “Fives” boards was included, and with gradually improved craftsmanship, the addition of the wireframe “spider,” and more standard sizing, the modern dartboard came to be!
Contact Emerald Leisure Source in Grand Rapids for everything you need to start making your own history of dart play!