Darts Across a Crowded Room

The imperfect world of pub darts. How to deal with the weird and unexpected.

Lights! Camera! Action!

Ceiling Fans!  Drunks!  Disco on the Jukebox!

Yes, this is the life of a Pub dart Player. People are shouting, there’re strange shadows across the board from bad dart lighting, some girl just bumped into you at the oche while “dancing” to some horrible overhead music, your Team Captain seems drunk.

Just another night of darts.

Until you become a Pro however, this is your lot, so either you learn to adapt or you start writing that story of how you “used to play” darts.

Having played in both England and America, you’ll often find the U.K. pubs have a lot more “atmosphere” (i.e. stuff going on) than their American counterparts, possibly because in the States, there’s more room to build and more planning can take place to include a Dart section. In the U.K., pubs are often in 500 year old buildings and there’s little opportunity for renovation.

Things you can or can’t control:

Ceiling Fans/AC vents near the dartboard.

I used to live in South Florida and just about every room in every house or office or public place had a ceiling fan. Now you really can’t live without them unless you want the A/C blasting 24/7, but breezes don’t belong anywhere within 3 feet of the area from the oche to the board. You can often get these turned off if you ask nice but, if you have to play with “unsteady air”, be prepared for your game to suffer.

Here’s a few things I’ve had to deal with playing darts in pubs:

  • 3-light setups that look like their purpose was to provide three time as many shadows
  • spotlights mounted on at head-height on the side wall.
  • a sloping floor at the oche so that in a normal side-stance you feel like you’re on a hillside
  • A light-box so low that 2 out of 3 shots at double 20 hit the box. (but only for someone 6’4″. Like me.)
  • An oche that abutted the wall of the pub, almost preventing left-handed throwers from playing
  • Walls and ceilings settled so badly that the board could never look straight
  • Open windows (for the breeze!) along the flight path.
  • Ceiling fans directly over the board.
  • A drunk at the bar shouting “f*cking American” as I threw (Thanks to Big Gary for sorting that out)

To quote the Great Rosanna: “It’s always something”.

How to Cope:

A couple of things may help you when things aren’t “right” in your environment.

  1. What’s bugging you is bugging them. Bad lights affect everyone. Old boards cause everyone’s darts to bounce. Write some things off to “the way it is” and don’t feel singled out.
  2. Focus. I know it’s easier said than done but staying laser focused on your next dart, your outs and the current game can occupy your mind enough so that you don’t have time to notice the other stuff. One thing I do on my practice setup at home is play loud music and vary the lighting a lot. Sometimes I turn the TV up loud as well. It makes the pubs seem less chaotic.
  3. Control your attitude. Bitching about the situation only makes you tense and prevents you from thinking about your own game. The most important thing to remember is that all these external issues affect everyone playing the game, so they all share the same disadvantages as you. The best thing you can to when playing in a new setting is to get as much practice time as you can on the new board. Fiind the weak spots and make a plan to deal with them. Don’t take it personally.

Let me know if you have any more ideas for dealing with less that perfect dart rooms.