The Anatomy of a Dartboard & Darts – A Beginner’s Guide

Are you thinking about investing in a dartboard or a set of darts but don’t understand the different parts? There is a lot of domain specific vocabulary in the game of darts such as double ring, bristle board, tungsten barrel, and much more. If you are not familiar with the game then these words and phrases can be confusing and off putting.

In this article we break down the anatomy of a dartboard and dart anatomy. We explain the specific purpose of each part of the dartboard in terms of gameplay, and the purpose of each part of the dart in terms of its function. We explain the meaning behind the confusing words and phrases for everyone to understand.

What’s Included In This Article

The Anatomy of a Dartboard

Dartboard Size

The size of a dartboard is as follows:

  • Width (AKA Board Size) = 18 inches
  • Circumference = 56.55 inches
  • Radius = 9 inches

Outer board

In the anatomy of a dartboard the outer board is the area where the white numbers appear on a black background. This area simply indicates what you will score if you hit this number inside the dartboard. This is not a scoring area, so if you hit the white number or the black background you will not score any points.

Double Ring

This is the outer ring on the dartboard. If you hit this area you will get double points in relation to the number that you hit. Often in tournaments and league matches players need to finish on a double before they can win, so the double ring plays an important part of the game.

This is the outer ring on the dartboard. If you hit this area you will get double points in relation to the number that you hit. Often in tournaments and league matches players need to finish on a double before they can win, so the double ring plays an important part of the game.

Single Rings

These are the two large black and white spaces, they are the largest areas to hit on the dartboard and therefore the most commonly hit.

The first single ring is the largest, this is the one between the double and triple rings. The second single ring is the smaller of the two, and is between the triple ring and the outer bullseye. There are no extra points awarded as with the double and triple rings, when you hit the single ring you simply score the amount of points associated with that area.

Triple Ring

The triple ring is arguably the most important area in dartboard anatomy. This is the ring that is closest to the middle of the dartboard, you can think of it as the inner ring. Because it is the smallest ring it is the hardest to hit, and therefore the most rewarding in terms of the point awarded when you hit it – triple points!

This area contains the triple 20 score which is the highest score in darts. When you watch professionals on the television you will see them aiming for this score time and time again.

Outer Bullseye

This is the green area in the middle of the dartboard that encircles the red dot (inner bullseye) that is right at the center. The point value for hitting the outer bullseye is 25.

Inner Bullseye

In the anatomy of a dartboard the inner ring is right at the center. This is the red dot that appears right in the middle of the dartboard. The inner bullseye is worth 50 points if you hit it. This is a good score but still not as much as the 60 points you would get for hitting the triple 20, therefore you will see that professionals don’t aim for the bullseye very often during a game.

Materials Used to Make a Dartboard

The anatomy of a dartboard stays the same across the various materials that are used to make them. It is the quality of the material that is used, and the craftsmanship that defines the overall quality.

What are dartboards made of? The answer is a little more complex than one might initially think. Dartboards can be made from many different materials including Cork, Paper, Bristle (Sisal Fibers), and Plastic.


Plastic dartboards are also known as electronic dartboards because the built in calculation system automatically keeps the score for the players.

In more recent years the quality of these dartboards has risen significantly, and there are many now which you can program which scoring variation you would like to play and it will score based on your preference. For these reasons, electronic dartboards are becoming more popular.


Bristle dartboards are the most common type used among high level and professional players. Also known as the ‘classic’ dartboard, bristle dartboards are commonly made from sisal fibres and hemp.

When people talk about dartboard anatomy they are usually referring to a bristle board. Although, it is worth saying the layout stays the same across different materials.

Cork and Paper

Cork dartboards can be used in games that are purely for fun. For example, having your friends around for a few drinks. They are low quality and will fall apart quickly, for these reasons serious players would never use Cork dartboards.

It is a similar story with paper dartboards, where multiple layers of paper are fused together to make the board. However, the process is not common and a little out of date, as this type of dartboard also quickly falls apart when used.

Other Considerations

Why Should I Care about Dartboard Anatomy?

Like any sport or hobby, choosing the right equipment at the right time to suit your game is one of the key elements to mastering the skill. In this sense darts is no different, there are different types of boards which are suitable to different formats of the game, and different player styles.

Furthermore, if you don’t understand the purpose or function of each part of the board then your game will suffer, and it may even be the case that you are playing the game incorrectly.

The anatomy of a dartboard is defined by the layout. The layout of a dart board is made up of single scoring numbers, an outer double ring, an inner triple ring, the outer bullseye, and the bullseye. Dartboard layout never changes, no matter what type of dartboard you play with the layout will always be the same.

Finally, dartboards are not generally cheap, and buying the wrong type of board can be a costly mistake. Certain darts can only be used with certain types of dartboards, so from a financial point of view it is worth knowing your stuff before making an investment. So, let’s get into it!

Can I Use Steel Tip Darts with an Electronic Dartboard?

Before buying a plastic dartboard you should be aware that there are limitations. Firstly, you should only use soft tip (plastic) darts with an electronic board, unless the plastic dartboard has a Bristle Tech surface.

Can I Use Soft Tip Darts with a Bristle Board?

The short answer is yes. You can use soft tip darts with a bristle board. Although it is more commonplace to use steel tip darts with a bristle dartboard, there is nothing stopping you from using plastic tips. Some darts even come with interchangeable tips, so you can switch between steel and plastic tips depending on your preference.

Plastic Dartboard Limitations

A plastic dartboard is made with hundreds of holes for the dart points or tips to stick into. This increases the likelihood of “bounce out” when compared to bristle dartboards.

Having considered the limitations, it is still worth noticing that electronic dartboards have significantly increased in quality in recent times. Additionally, they offer convenience and safety that other types of dart boards cannot match.

What is the highest quality dartboard?

Like all common products, the quality of bristle dartboards can vary widely, from low end to the highest in the game used in major tournaments and leagues. In the biggest tournament in darts, The World Championship, they use a bristle dart board.

Additionally, bristle dart boards such those made by companies such as Barrington, Winmau, and Viper are used in the professional game. The fact that these types of dartboards are used exclusively at this level tells you all you need to know about their quality.

Final Thoughts on Dartboard Anatomy

To summarize, the anatomy of a dartboard is defined by the various sections within it’s layout, as well as the size of the board. Going from outwards to inner; these sections are the outer board, double ring, single ring, triple ring, outer bullseye, inner bullseye.

Each section serves a specific purpose during game play, particularly in terms of the amount a player scores when hitting that section. The size and sections in dartboard anatomy do not change across materials. For example, you will find exactly the same sections on a bristle and plastic board.

Several factors contribute to the overall quality of the board. These include the manufacturing process, craftsmanship, and material used to design and make the dartboard. Bristle boards are widely considered to be the best and are exclusively used in the professional game.

Dart Anatomy

There are four separate parts to a dart, the tip, barrel, the shaft, and the flight. When it comes to dart anatomy these are the important parts, with each section being manufactured separately. As well as there being a separate manufacturing process, there is a separate function for each part of the dart.

When all parts are made to perfection, with the other parts in mind, they each perform their own function faultlessly resulting in a great dart. In this article we talk about dart anatomy, the different functions and purposes of each part, as well as different versions.

Dart Point or Tip

Dart points can be either steel or plastic. Steel tip darts are used on bristle dart boards whereas plastic tip darts are used with soft tip dart boards (electronic dart boards that keep the score for the player). Soft tip darts can also be used on bristle dart boards. However, you should never use steel tip darts on a soft tip dart board, this could result in damage to either the dartboard or the dart, or both.

In dart anatomy some darts have removable points. This means you can use both plastic and steel tips with this type of dart, to do this you would remove the point from the barrel by unscrewing it. Other darts however have points that cannot be removed, meaning it is structurally integrated into the dart barrel.

Finally, darts with movable points are designed so that there is a slight retraction of the point upon the impact of hitting the board. This slight retraction is advantageous to the player as it allows the back of the dart to continue moving when the front of the dart hits the board, therefore softening the impact and vastly reducing the chance of the bounce outs.

Dart Barrel

Dart barrels are available in many different shapes, sizes, diameters, materials, and weights. This is because within dart anatomy the dart barrel is the most important part of the dart. It is where the player grips the dart, and also where the majority of the weight that the dart carries is held.

The weight of the dart depends much upon the material that the barrel is made from. The most common barrel weights are between 16 and 30 grams, however it is possible to buy darts with higher weighted barrels.

The materials from which barrels are made include plastic, wood, brass, tungsten, and nickel silver. Plastic and wood are less common and less popular. Brass used to be the most common form of dart barrel before the 1970s. During that time manufactures started using a mix of tungsten and nickel silver to make barrels, this quickly became popular as it allows for a thinner dart profile. A thinner profile means that it is easier for the player to group the darts closer together which results in higher scoring.

In terms of barrel grips, there are ringed, smooth, and knurled grips to choose from, depending on player preference. Ringed grips are preferred by many professionals because there is no interference with the release when throwing, while others prefer a smooth grip.

Knurling is a mechanical process done in the manufacturing of the dart. There are different types of knurl cuts, for example, coarse nile cuts are the roughest type, while other types are smoother.

Dart Shaft or Stem

A quality dart shaft plays a key role in the overall quality of a dart. The length of the shaft is important to the dart’s flight, many players prefer longer shafts as they can provide a more stable flight. However, longer shafts can also result in the dart wobbling in the air, a phenomenon also known as “fish tailing”. If your dart is fish tailing often when thrown, you may want to consider a shorter shaft.

Dart Shaft Materials

In a similar fashion to dart barrels, shafts come in many different materials, lengths, and styles, depending on player preference. Aluminum is the most popular shaft material used by players.

Although aluminum shafts can be a little more expensive, high level players consider this as good value because aluminium is stronger, lighter, and sturdier than other materials. Other popular materials include plastic, nylon and titanium.

Specialty Shafts and Common Problems

In addition to the most popular materials and styles there are also some specialty styles. These include spinning shafts that allow for tighter groupings, and shafts in which the player can adjust the length.

Sometimes unwanted loosing can occur between the dart barrel and the shaft during play. To resolve this some players use a rubber “O-Ring”, which is also known as a dart washer, strapped between the two parts to keep them tight.

Dart Flights

Just like the barrel and shaft, dart flights play a crucial role in dart anatomy. The objective of the dart’s flight is to keep the dart on a stable and smooth trajectory as it flies through the air.

Flights come in many different textures, shapes, and sizes. Like the other parts of a dart, it is a matter of player preference when it comes to choosing a flight.

Players usually choose a slim or standard flight shape. However, other less popular shapes include Kite, Vector, Pear, and Vortex. Additionally, there are a variety of textures to choose from when buying a flight, including Nylon, Smooth and Dimplex.

Intermediate, higher level, and professional level players tend to opt for smaller flights. This is because they move faster through the air and work better in conjunction with smaller shafts which these types of players are likely to use.

Larger and more textured flights will cause the dart to move a little slower when thrown by the player, and work better with larger barrels and shafts. Therefore, it is more likely that beginner level players will use larger flights. These are the norms for flights, but as mentioned it is a matter of preference and there are always exceptions to the norms.

Final Thoughts on Dart Anatomy

In conclusion, it is worth noticing that players have many different options when it comes to choosing each part of the dart. The barrel is the most substantial part of the dart and essential for gripping, however choosing the correct shaft, flight, and point to suit your style is important.

Now that you understand each part of the dark you should feel more comfortable in understanding the jargon when people talk about darts. Furthermore, you should feel more at ease when you are in the marketplace to buy a new set of darts.

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