Just like any other sports equipment, your dartboard will require special care to stand the test of time. Unfortunately, most folks are unaware of this and in fact, most of them neglect their boards exposing them to damage. If you’re a beginner, one rule of becoming successful in this sport is by practicing proper dartboard maintenance. By doing so, your dartboard will be less susceptible to wear leading to a higher rate of success when playing. Dartboards come in different variants. There are bristle boards, electronic boards, cork boards, paper boards, and wooden boards just to name a few.
Bristle dartboards are the most popular types of boards you’ll find in most leagues and are made of natural vegetable fiber. This natural rope fiber can withstand a lot but again, it can wear prematurely when mishandled. Electronic boards, on the other hand, may not suffer the same fate as bristle, cork, or wooden boards. However, with too many electronic parts, these boards too can be susceptible to damage if they’re neglected. So, with that said, this short guide will discuss at least eight best ways you can consider if you want to keep your dartboard looking great.
A Brief History of the Dartboard
The history of the dartboard dates back to ions of years when tree trunks were used as primary targets. These trunks were circular and had concentric rings and natural cracks that were used to separate the scores. In fact, this idea was later used to design the rings and the segments of the modern-day dartboard.
As time passed, people advanced from the traditional tree trunks to more improved rounded dartboards made from elm or poplar. The reason why these two kinds of wood were used was due to their softness that made it easier for builders to cut through them. It also made it easier for darts to penetrate through the wood without bouncing off.
In 1896, a Lancashire carpenter named Brian Gamlin devised the standard numbering system to make the game more complex and entertaining. Eventually, more variations of the dartboard were invented that depending on the location. This saw the invention of dartboards such as the Manchester (Log End), Yorkshire, Irish Black, Grimsby, and Lincoln among others. Note that, all of these boards only had the outer double ring and the inner bullseye ring with so many scoring segments.
From the 1920s, the standard dartboard was built that had a center triple segment and the inner/outer bullseye rings. This dartboard was named the London Board and was officially picked as the standard dartboard used professionally across the world.
From the 1930s, an England company based in London (Nodor), patented a new type of dartboard that became an instant success. This board was made of small bundles of sisal fiber that were compressed on a disk and bound with metal rings. While wooden boards were susceptible to regular cracking, this one became more resistant to damage and was soft enough to allow darts to penetrate easily.
Later on, from the 1970s, US skilled wireworkers improved this dartboard by adding wires that separated the scores. These wires were named the “spider”.
So, How Do You Maintain Your Dartboard?
Now that we’ve discussed a brief history of the dartboard, this guide will now switch its focus to share a few steps you must follow if you want to maintain your dartboard. So, if you’re ready, then let’s begin.
Step 1: Rotate the Board Regularly
The game of darts relies more on skills and accuracy. And since skillful players are capable of controlling their throws with excellent accuracy, they’re able to hit specific spots repeatedly to gain more points. Because of this, some segments, such as the triple 20, 18, 19, and 16 are likely to suffer from more hits than the rest of the lower-scoring segments.
Now, when it comes to rotating your dartboard, bristle, cork, and wooden boards are usually the major culprits. That’s because these boards have soft target areas that can be damaged by the sharp tips of the darts if they’re hit on the same spots regularly. If you’re using an electronic dartboard, this might not be an issue as these boards have plastic surfaces that can’t be damaged by the plastic tips of soft tip darts.
So, to prevent uneven wear of your dartboard, you should rotate it often. But, how exactly are you supposed to rotate your dartboard? Now, to rotate the board, all you need to do is to unclip the metal rings from the edges of the board. Next, rotate the board a few places in the clockwise direction to spread out the high target segments.
When rotating your dartboard, most manufacturers recommend that you do it after every session if you’re playing at a professional level regularly. However, if you’re just a beginner who’s just at the infancy levels, then rotating it once in a while will be ideal.
Step 2: Avoid Exposing Your Board to Fluids
Although all the recommendations in this guide are essential, perhaps one of them that’s more influential when it comes to your board’s longevity is exposing it to water. The reason why this step is important is that most people have been misinformed about using gentle cleaners to restore their dartboards’ former luster.
The truth, however, is that doing so will simply damage your dartboard. In the case of bristle boards, the sisal fibers are tightly bundled together using glue to stay intact. In case the board is exposed to moisture, it automatically begins to bubble and warp. If the wetness penetrates further inside, the glue that bundles the sisal fiber together is destroyed leaving the bristles loose and totally destroyed.
Electronic dartboards are not immune to this setback either. Although they might boast of having plastic surfaces, the electronics on the inside can be severely damaged if they get into contact with water. So, just like bristle dartboards, always observe maximum care when it comes to exposing your electronic boards to the water.
Step 3: Setup Your Dartboard Properly
When setting up your dartboard, you need to be very careful with the weight. You need to be mindful of the weight for you to determine the right mounting fixture that will guarantee you a secure mount. In most cases, bristle dartboards are serious victims when it comes to setup. Since they’re not traditionally designed to handle the excess weight, a little pressure can send the board crushing on the floor. So, to avoid such issues, always make sure your bristle dartboard isn’t holding any excess weight besides its own.
When it comes to electronic boards, setup may not be a major issue as most of them are fitted on dartboard cabinets. They also come with their own inbuilt lights that are far more advanced than those added on bristle dartboards.
Step 4: Know Your Dartboard’s Capacity
When using your dartboard, you must know its capacity. Just like other products, a dartboard has a limit beyond which it can’t withstand any excess abuse. Luckily, most manufacturers highlight the capacity of their boards on the setup documents. By checking these documents, you’ll be able to know how many players your specific dartboard can support at a time. If it’s designed for two players, then it shouldn’t be used to play a game that supports 8 players. Otherwise, by doing this, you’ll be overusing your dartboard which can lead to rapid wear.
Step 5: Maintain Your Darts
When playing darts, one of the parts that come into contact with your dartboard more regularly are the darts. This, therefore, make perfect sense when you argue that the condition of your darts can influence the longevity of your board. So, as much as you’re taking good care of your board, the condition of your darts should never be neglected.
But, how exactly are you supposed to take care of your darts? Now, if you’re using soft tip darts, the amount of damage they’re likely to cause is minimal. That’s because electronic boards have tiny holes on the surface where darts penetrate through to register points. So, if the soft tips of your soft tip darts are dull, all you need to do is to replace them with sharper ones.
But, when it comes to steel tip darts, things are a little bit different. If the darts are totally blunt, they can create large holes on the surface of the bristle board that can be quite hard to heal. On the other hand, if you make the tips too sharp, they can become burred causing them to act like tiny hooks. This means that once the dart penetrates the board, removing it will cause some parts of the board to chip off.
So, to avoid all these, you need to observe special care when sharpening your darts. First, you need to use a dart sharpener that has a small depression in the middle. Hold your dart gently and move it in a steady circular motion for around 10 to 20 seconds. When you’re done, access the sharpness of the tip. If it’s too sharp, dull it a little bit to make it rounded.
Step 6: Avoid Extreme Exposure to Light
When setting up your bristle dartboard, you need to avoid mounting it close to extreme light. This can either be outside in direct sunlight or indoors where it’s exposed to high-potency lightbulbs. You see, the bristles on your dartboard are very sensitive. Exposing them to extreme light can cause discoloration that can make the colors on the board to fade considerably. Light can also cause the board to dehydrate rapidly forcing it to lose most of its self-healing properties.
Therefore, to prolong the life of your bristle dartboard, it’s heavily advised that you mount it in a room with a limited source of light. Setting up LED lights can be okay as they don’t generate any heat that can damage the board. In case you must use it in places with excessive light, then you can consider mounting it inside a lockable cabinet.
Step 7: Twist the Darts, Don’t Pull Them Out
The technique used to remove the darts from a bristle dartboard can cause more damage than the actual throwing of the darts. If you’re used to pulling the darts off the board aggressively, then there’s a higher chance you’ll end up damaging the board. To those using dartboards mounted on stands, pulling the darts forcefully can cause the stand to tip over sending the board crushing on the floor.
So, to avoid such premature damages, you must cultivate the habit of twisting the darts first before pulling them. This way, you won’t risk damaging your board.
Step 8: Clean Your Dartboard Regularly
The last step of dartboard maintenance you must keep in mind is cleaning your dartboard often. In fact, the same goes to the darts themselves as they’re the ones that get to contact with your hands. As you all know, darts is a social sport that’s enjoyed by friends and family at home or in amusement centers. When playing in social environments, you’re likely to hold the darts with greasy hands in case you’re playing while still eating.
If these greases end up on your dartboard, they can attract huge amounts of dirt that can cause the coloration on your board to dull. So, to avoid this, it’s highly recommended that you clean the surface of your dartboard regularly. To clean your dartboard, simply pick a damp cloth and run it on the surface of the board.
Make sure that you wipe it thoroughly to remove any grease and dust that might have accumulated on the surface. In the case of electronic boards, make sure that you wipe the LED display and the tiny holes for the speakers. To clean the darts, pick a bowl and fill it with a mixture of lukewarm water and dishwasher liquid. Remove the flights from the darts and dip the darts inside the bowl for around 10 minutes. Scrub them gently using a soft-bristled toothbrush until they’re sparkling clean.
If you read the history of the dartboard, you’ll be amazed to realize that this accessory has come a long way to become what it is today. In the past, maintaining the wooden dartboard involved soaking it overnight then painting it with a special oil coating to keep it revitalized and well-nourished. But, as time passed, modern science and technology have brought in newer and better dartboards. These boards are much easier to maintain and are made of materials that are more resistant to wear.
With that said, this guide has offered you eight useful steps that you can follow to maintain your dartboard. Since most of them are pretty much self-explanatory, following them to the latter will prevent you from playing darts in a worn-out, crappy dartboard.