STEEL TIP DARTboards
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Steel Tip Dartboards
Darts has traditionally always been played with steel tip darts, and over the years there have been various designs that dartboards have had. The first dartboards were made out of wood, but these needed to be soaked in water every night so they would remain usable which was messy and impractical. It also smelled atrocious. This is what lead to the invention of the sisal dartboard.
Sisal dartboards are often called bristle or cork boards, both of which are misnomers since they are made out of sisal fibers. Sisal is naturally occurring and is known for its durability. It actually has a wide variety of uses beyond just dartboards but any steel tip dartboard you see in a professional setting, such as tournaments or dart leagues, is going to be a sisal dartboard.
You really can’t go wrong when buying a sisal dart board, but there are a few things to look out for that will make the process easier.
Quality of Sisal
First and foremost is going to be the quality of sisal the dartboard is made out of. Many steel tip dartboards are going to look very similar but the price tags can vary substantially. One of the biggest reasons this happens is because different boards are made out of different qualities of sisal.
Higher-end sisal is usually grown and harvested in Africa, predominantly Kenya, and is what makes some of the best dartboards. You might be wondering why the quality of sisal matters.
For starters, the reason sisal is used to make dartboards, besides the fact that it doesn’t stink, is that it has a self-healing effect. Other materials like rubber or cork would have permanent marks in them after a dart hits them. Sisal on the other hand will naturally separate to allow the dart to penetrate. So as darts are thrown at the board the fibers move out of the way. As more darts hit the board, these fibers adjust and return to their original position which helps the board last longer.
This doesn’t mean a sisal dartboard never needs to be replaced or that it will look perfect afterward, but it does mean it will be functional and look better than a cheaper board.
Spider Wire and Staples
The trick with sisal is that the type of sisal usually isn’t advertised unless it’s top quality, so a trick to finding out how good a board is you should look at the spider wire. The spider wire is what separates all of the dartboard segments and denotes each area. These are the single, double, and treble spaces, as well as the bullseye. There are three types of spider wire, rounded, triangular, and razor-thin, and each one will give you a pretty good idea of the quality of the dartboard.
Rounded, or circular, is going to be the most affordable option. Rounded wires are the thickest of the three and while darts can deflect off of the wire and into the board, it is the most likely of the three to be hit. That doesn’t mean rounded wire is bad though. If you’re new to darts and want a decent dartboard that will help you practice and learn whether or not you want to invest more in the game, then a rounded wire dartboard is a great option.
Triangular wire is in between the two in terms of thickness. Its advantage is that it is manufactured to be in the shape of, well, a triangle. This means when darts hit the wire, the momentum is more likely to carry them into the board instead of bouncing out. These kinds of dartboards are good all-around options if you want a quality board at a good price.
And last but certainly not least is razor wire. Razor wire is the thinnest of the three, which means these boards have the most surface area and are the least likely to result in bounce outs. These are the highest quality dartboards and will come with a higher price tag because of it. It’s also a safe bet that the quality of sisal these boards use is above that of rounded or triangular wired dartboards. If you want to get serious about playing darts, then this is the type of dartboard for you.
One last thing to consider when looking at different spider wires is whether or not it uses staples. Rounded and triangular spider wires both use staples to keep them secured to the board, while razor-thin does not. The reason this matters is because staples will take up space and can lead to more bounce outs.
This will be a bigger concern for professional players who will be grouping their darts in the double or treble segments since those are the spots that the staples are attached to. But, regardless of your skill level, you’re going to want a staple-free bullseye since it is already the smallest spot on the dartboard. You don’t want to make that throw any harder than it already is.
Movable Number Rings
An often overlooked, but still important, feature for a dartboard to have is a movable number ring because it will help you to greatly extend the life of your board. At this point, you might be wondering, how is a number ring going to help you make your board last longer?
An inevitability of darts is that they will leave marks on your dart board. I mean, they are metal tipped objects being thrown at something. Since certain segments are worth more points or used more often in certain games, certain areas will wear down faster. This is where having a movable number ring comes in handy.
By rotating your dartboard and readjusting the number ring so that the 20 is at the top, you’ll be utilizing the entire board instead of constantly wearing out the same spots.
In all fairness, basically every sisal dart board you come across is going to have a movable number ring, but it’s important to know why you want one.