Darts is traditionally an indoor game (or sport depending on your opinion) that originated in bars/pubs. Environmental factors like wind, rain, or snow will heavily impact your playing ability, which is even more true if you live in certain parts of the US or basically anywhere in the UK!
Just because darts is typically an indoor game though, does this mean you can’t, or shouldn’t, play darts outside?
Basketball for example is an indoor game but that doesn’t mean it’s restricted to indoor play and in fact, apart from competitive games or organized practice, it’s almost never played indoors!
With this in mind, can you play darts outside? You can play darts outside, however, in most cases, it would not be advised. Weather conditions, equipment, and your surrounding area need to be taken into consideration and when playing darts, indoors is usually the best option.
While the above statement might be true in general, it’s not true for everyone. In this article, I’ll cover how you can go about playing darts outside, what factors you need to take into consideration, and most importantly, how to properly look after your darts equipment when used outdoors.
Can You Play Darts Outside
OK, darts is an indoor game and in most cases, I’d recommend that you play indoors. This is true whether you are practicing or just having a game for fun. Darts is a game of consistency and to play at a good standard, you shouldn’t practice in conditions that provide your game with no benefit.
To take an example, A slight wind outdoors means you’ll need to take this into consideration and adjust your throw accordingly. In game situations though, this won’t be a factor, and the few hours you spent practicing while making this adjustment will be wasted when it comes to game-on time.
For those reading this that are not trying to be 85+ average throwers and just want to play darts outside in the sunshine, you can play darts outside. As with the basketball example, there is no real reason why you can’t play darts outside in some nice weather, especially if you just want to play for fun.
What I will say when it comes to playing darts outside though is that there are a few factors that might make your experience less enjoyable…
Issues With Playing Darts Outside
If you don’t have space, or desire, to keep a dartboard mounted/hanging in your home then the next best alternative would be to play darts outside. This will however have some factors, or issues, that you’ll need to take into consideration.
The weather is going to be the single biggest factor that will determine whether or not you should play darts outside. Not only from an enjoyment perspective but also from an ability to actually play. Firstly, the temperature will affect your play.
You need to be loose and relaxed to play darts and if anyone has ever tried to throw in the cold, you’ll find it’s noticeably more difficult just to grip your dart, let alone throw it with any sort of confidence and precision. Therefore, trying to play in the cold is not going to be enjoyable or advisable.
Next, depending on where you live globally, rain is something that can start with little warning and can instantly ruin a game or practice session. The wind is the biggest factor though and any sort of outside wind will heavily impact your ability to throw and your accuracy.
Darts are lightweight with most only using darts as heavy as 33g – 35g in weight and with a dart flight designed to move through the air, it’s only natural that wind will heavily impact the direction that the dart flies once it leaves your hand.
As darts is a game of accuracy and consistency, playing in the wind is pointless. Even from the perspective of just having fun, you won’t find it fun if the wind is taking your dart away from where you’re aiming!
Really, the only time you should be considering playing darts outside is on a sunny day with no wind to interfere with play. Again, this will depend on where you live but trying to rely on ideal weather conditions will just make playing outside frustrating and infrequent.
On a sunny day, feel free to take your darts outside but most of the time, the weather is too influential on an intricate game like darts to make it a sensible or viable option to play outside.
Something else you will need to consider is where & how you will mount the board and set up your playing area. Firstly, the dartboard needs to be set at a height of 5 feet 8 inches to the center of the bullseye and the throwline needs to be measured at 7 feet 9.25 inches from the front of the board to the toe line.
If you’ve already got a portable dartboard stand then this process becomes a lot easier. I personally use a Gorilla darts stand (available on Amazon here) so I can basically play anywhere if there is space but if you don’t have this, you’ll need something to mount it on.
A shed, wall, or fence will all work fine providing the structure is strong enough to support the weight. Ideally, try to find a spot that’s in a “wind trap” and offers a consistent throwing opportunity. If you’ve mounted the board out in the open then there is more chance that wind will affect your play.
Steel tip boards are relatively easy to mount but if you want to play on an electronic board, you’ll also need to consider the positioning for a power outlet.
Can a Dartboard Go Outside
Besides playing outside, the question also needs to be considered as to whether or not a dartboard can go outside? When it comes to playing, you can use plenty of tricks to ensure you have a suitable throwing space (like a gazebo or sheltered cover) but the condition of your dartboard will also need to be considered.
Firstly, an electronic soft tip board offers the most durability when kept outside. As long as there isn’t any rain or water hazards, a plastic board will be just fine in outdoor conditions. Soft tip darts are also less likely to become damaged than steel tip darts hitting brickwork or concrete.
A steel tip bristle dartboard, however, should not be kept outside. For an hour-long practice game in mild weather conditions, you’ll be fine but if the weather is hot, humid, raining, or moist, a bristle dartboard will become easily damaged.
This is true with short term exposure to harsh weather conditions but will be even worse when kept outside uncovered for any long duration of time (2+ days).
The reason for this being that a bristle dartboard is very sensitive to temperatures and exposure to weather conditions. A harsh sun will dry the board out and weaken the glue that holds the fibers in place. Moisture and water will also weaken the glue but I’ll cover this in a bit more detail.
Can a Dartboard Get Wet
It can be tempting when you’ve finished playing darts outside to just leave the board outside. This will, however, likely cause irreparable damage to your board.
A sisal (bristle) dartboard that becomes wet will see the fibers absorb the water which will distort their shape and lead to your dartboard swelling and bulging. The water will also weaken the glue and loosen the fibers which will lead to them coming loose and falling out.
Under no circumstance should a dartboard get wet and therefore, you should never keep your dartboard outside or play when it’s raining as any water or moisture will warm the board and leave it in a condition that is no longer playable.
Therefore, you should never leave a dartboard outside unless it’s in a water-proof and sealed cabinet (which most standard cabinets are not).
How to Play Darts Outside
As you may have noticed from the tone of this article, I’m not really in favor of playing darts outside however, it is possible to do so easily if you follow some important rules:
- Keep the dartboard out of direct sunlight
- Find an area to play that is covered from any wind
- Do not let the dartboard get wet. This means rain, sprinklers, or any other form of water from outside.
- Do not store your dartboard and darts outside. Humid or wet conditions will warp the board and cause it to swell and bulge. The darts and dartboard framing can also rust if left outside.
To summarize, find a dry and wind-free spot, mount your board at the correct height and distance, and always take your board back indoors immediately after you’ve finished playing. As long as you avoid the issues listed above there is no reason why you can’t play darts outside if the conditions are ideal for it.
There are quite a few reasons why you should not play darts outside and these mainly come down to environmental factors that will impact your throw and also the condition of your board and darts.
If, however, the weather conditions are suitable and you just want to enjoy a game of darts outside on occasion, there is no reason why you can’t. Just make sure you keep your equipment indoors when not in use and try to keep the majority of your practice time indoors to maintain consistency and develop accuracy.