"camp dart board"

Playing Darts

One of our favorite things to do at the cottage, particularly on a rainy, cold night when an outdoor campfire underneath the proverbial stars is not an option, is to play a few games of darts.

Usually we play the dart game “Cricket” although occasionally we play “501” or “301”.

All three are fun to play and if you have another couple or two, the competition can get pretty intense. We have a Dartboard set up at all times in the camp, and believe me when I tell ya, we make good use of it.

Unlike some cottagers, we don’t play a lot of card games, preferring a good old rousing game of darts. These games can get pretty intense too, starting on Friday night, and the championship for the weekend played on Saturday night. I have seen us play darts well into the wee hours of the morning.
"camp dart board"
This afternoon I watched some professional dart players, members of the Professional Darts Corporation or PDC as it is called, a British organization founded in 1992 with the goal of “taking the sport of darts to new levels”.

Watching the professional dart players is a great way to learn how to throw darts, and a quick way to realize the amount of skill, determination and most of all concentration required to consistently hit what you are aiming for.

Although professional darts is becoming a popular sport in North America, it is in the United Kingdom that the game of darts began and I suppose for want of a better word, excells.

As I mentioned we usually play what we call “cricket” at the camp. We play with two teams of two, but there can be more people on a team or it can be 1 person to a team, depending on the number of people playing.

Here is my buddy Doug smiling because he just hit his first dart with his next shot and they both stayed in the board. He wanted to count it as a double, but the official judges said said, “No freakin’ way that counts for anything.” Official judges can be like that sometimes…..

Cricket Dart Game
These are not official rules for Cricket, but the rules we use for our dart games at the cottage. They are pretty close to the official rules of Cricket.

The first player is chosen either by coin toss or ‘diddling for the middle, that is, a player from each team throws one dart at the bull, the closest to the bull starts first.

In our game, Cricket requires each team to get 3 of the following numbers, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 3 doubles, 3 triples 3 bulls. Once a team has 3 of a number (or the triples, doubles, bulls) it can score on that number until the opposing team gets their 3 of the same number, thus ‘closing’ that number from further scoring.

Each number is worth it’s number value in points, red bulls worth 50 points, green bull 25.

Triples and doubles of any number count for triple or double the score provided the team have all their 3 triples or doubles etc.

The winner is the team that has all their numbers and the highest score. The scores and the numbers are kept on a chalkboard scoreboard like the one in this picture. "cricket dart game scoreboard"

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501 Dart Game or 301 Dart Game
501 and 301 are usually the games played in dart competitions. This is how to play 501 darts and how to play 301 darts. In these games the object is to be the first to reach 0.

Each player or team starts with a score of 501 (or 301 for faster games.) In some games, it is a requirement to ‘double in’ that is, hit a double before you can begin to subtract from the 501.

In others although you do not double in, but you must double out in order to win, that means, you must calculate your score to enable the one that brings you to 0 to be a double. For example, if your score is 21, a player might shoot a 1 first, then a double 10 to win the game. Although some games don’t double in, all games of 501 and 301 require the winner to have doubled out.

I hate to admit it, but I prefer Cricket because it is easier to add score than to subtract it in your head and we don’t have an electronic score board that some have which makes it easier to keep track of the score.

Now you may think that darts are mostly luck and perhaps some practice, but in reality it’s a little of that, and a lot of skill that happens over time.


There are tips and tricks though that you can learn that will improve your dart game. Things like scoring strategies, body stance, throwing technique, how to hold the dart etc, and how to hit what you aim for. It takes time and patience, but it pays to practice and to learn the basics if you want to be the dart champ at your cottage dart tournaments.

Darts can also been surprisingly physical, standing around waiting your turn, tensing your arm muscle to shoot etc. I seldom sit when we play darts, as I find it takes more out of me having to get up and down from a chair many times a night. It’s better to use a bar stool to sort of lean against.

It also doesn’t hurt to have a dartboard set up at home so you can practice all winter!!

If you haven’t already, I suggest you gear your camp up with a dartboard and get practicing, be prepared for lots of fun.

Helpful Links
Winmau Blade III Bristle Dartboard

Play Better Darts and Win More Often!

Darts Perfection

Instructions for Setting Up A Dart Board

A Bar Player’s Guide to Winning Darts

A History of Darts, Dr. Darts, Patrick Chaplain

Dart Game Rules

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