Hitting Bullseyes: How To Get Started With Playing Darts

All you need is a steady hand and aim.

Playing darts is a great way to spend time with your friends and family. It’s also a sport that can be played by anyone, of any age or skill level. If you’re looking for a fun activity to do with your kids, a game of darts might just be the perfect choice for you!

In this guide, I will cover some basics about darts and how to start playing darts so that you can get started today!


So what is a game of darts?

Just like its name suggests, darts is a game that involves throwing darts at the dartboard. This means that all you need to get started is yourself, a dartboard, some darts, and a steady hand to hit your mark.


Ok, so I’ve got all the essentials. Where do I go from there?

If you’ve never played darts in your life, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the different sections of the dartboard and playing area.

image of a dartboard showing the different sections and how much points you can score when you hit them
This picture highlights the points that each player gets depending on where their dart lands on the board. As always, the bullseye gets you the most points!


Closely referenced as being similar to a pie, a dartboard is divided into 20 ‘slices’ (segments). These segments are numbered from 1 to 20 and are further divided by rings that make the inner and outer sections of the dartboard as illustrated in the picture.

measurements of how much space you need for your dartboard
This image by DARTSLIVE is a good general guide for setting up your dartboard and throw line for the proper playing experience.


Another crucial point to playing darts is that you should always try to stand as close to the dartboard as possible. This ensures that you are in the ideal position to control the darts and throw them parallel to your arm and dominant eye for more control.

For this, you’ll need to stand an optimum distance from the dartboard. This is marked by the oche line (more commonly known as the throw line) with the arc beginning at about 180 degrees. The distance between your feet and the dartboard should be about 244cm. Any closer and it will make it too difficult for you to aim properly.


Rules of 501 & 301 Darts

Just like any other game, dart players aim to achieve the highest score possible in the shortest amount of throws regardless of the ruleset.

Before you start the game, the darts are divided into sets of two darts, and each set is played in turn with the darts alternating from one player to the other. Each game has a total of either 501 or 301 points, which is where the game gets its name from. Pretty straightforward, right? Now time to get to the details.

Here is a basic breakdown of the rules:

  1. The player with the fewest points starts first in reaching their highest score for 501 darts (1 point per dart).
  2. Players must get exactly the number of points required (501 or 301). If your final shot puts you above the maximum number of points, it is considered a ‘bust’ and immediately ends your turn. You must wait for your opponent to be done with their shots before you can continue.
  3. While not common for all establishments, there are some that believe the first shot must land in the double section in the outer ring of the dartboard (called a doubling-in). Any shots before you make this particular shot will not be considered for points. Think of it as a minimum requirement!
  4. The last dart throw by the first person to reach the final score must land in either a double or a bullseye to not be a bust. 

It is also important to remember that for both variations, each player is usually given a total of 3 darts per turn to collect points. Misses are also counted in these three throws, garnering you zero points.

You will also not get points if your dart ends up ‘sticking’ to another dart nor get another try at the throw itself.

The darts used should be heavy-duty darts and the board itself must not have any bounce or rubber on it. When throwing, you should use your dominant hand. Make sure to get a decent amount of practice in first as everyone starts somewhere before getting good!


Hopefully at the end of this article, you have learned a little and are feeling less intimidated to give darts a try!

While it might seem like a lot to remember, just remember that playing darts is the same as playing any other sport: there is muscle memory involved. As long as you practice enough and just have fun, you’ll eventually learn and be on the path to becoming a dart pro in no time!


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