That’s a question I’ve gotten a few (not too many, mind you) times by now. And, with dart season starting again, and new darters taking up the game, I’m sure to hear it a few more times than usual over the upcoming months.
So, I thought I’d address how an american dartboard is put together, and show some examples of how they work and wear.Two Pieces:
The first thing to note is that there are two distinct pieces to a dartboard. There is the outer “frame”, and an inner “shooting circle”. Better dartboards are designed so that you can rotate the inner shooting circle. That’s because we often shoot the same innings over and over, and if left to mother nature, the dartboard would wear out in the popular innings with the unpopular innings still being almost untouched.
Here’s a picture of a board that we recently rotated . . .
As you can see, there is heavy wear in the 15, the 17, and the 19. those areas used to be the 2, 3, and 7 (popular innings to shoot). So, by being able to rotate the inner section of the board, we can add a lot of life to it.
If the inner section of the board is not sufficiently loose, rotating it is a bother, and requires some honest muscle work. I’ve had boards that were too stubborn to rotate, so I’ve had to actually take them apart, rotate the inner circle, then put them back together. Here’s a video of one of those adventures . . .
So, the answer to the question of “should it be loose” is yes. It should be somewhat loose.
Of course, if anything has ever been too tight, it’s been too loose as well. When I feel there’s too much give in the dartboard when the darts hit it, I’ll add some shims in between the inner scoring section and the frame to eliminate any “wobble” that might exist.
In taverns I’ve seen players just insert a matchbook and keep on shooting. I use small thin pieces of wood because they look nicer. But, anything that I can insert to stop the wobble, and pull out easily when I want to rotate the board is fine. It’s not like a dart hits the board with much force, so I don’t have to do anything too elaborate.
And obviously, if you can knock the inner section out of the frame by throwing a dart at it, that’s TOO LOOSE.