Soft Tip Darts

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Electronic Soft Tip Dart BoardSoft Tip darts in the UK is virtually non existent. Although boards are available to buy I personally have never come across a pub or club that has one for people to play on. Unlike America, Canada and our European partners soft tip darts seems a non entity. Why? Well I am not really sure!

So for all those UK people reading this page, what is soft tip darts?

Soft Tip Darts started in America in 1975. A small machine shop owner named Rudy Allison was travelling through Ireland when he stayed in a town called Wicklow. He spent some time playing steel tip darts with the locals but notice the flow of play was interrupted by the marking of the score on a chalk board. He thought why someone hadn’t thought of away of scoring the game electronically as per pin ball machines.  This thought consumed Rudy and on his way back to America he had developed a rough idea how a new style dartboard could calculate the scores automatically. 

Close-up of a Soft Tip Dart Board Scoring AreaOver a period of a year Rudy experimented, refined his idea and gained financial backing to develop his idea into a business. He produced a dart board made from a plastic / latex that had thousands of holes in. The steel tip of the dart was replaced with a plastic tip, so when the dart entered the board the tip would trigger a circuit which recorded the score. This invention meant there was no need for manual marking of the game. The boards these days come in a variety of quality, finishes and pre installed games such as American Cricket and the standard ’01 games to name just two. The darts used for this board are the same as a standard dart we use on a steel tip (bristle /sisal) board with one major exception, the tip!

 Harrow's - Eric Bristow Soft Tip Darts

Soft Tip Darts Replacent Tips Various Sizes

Soft tip darts is so called because of the material the dart point is made from: plastic. Most boards also have a weight restriction limit of 18grms, this is purely to protect the board from breaking, however there are more robust boards that will take a higher weight dart up to 24grms.

League soft tip darts usually have a dart weight restriction of 18grms but your local league will advise. Throwing heavier darts than allowed will get you disqualified.

Boards vary in design and quality but a basic board complete with darts will cost you @ £40.00  (UK) 2011

 Unicorn Basic Soft Tip Dart Board & Darts

Soft Tip Darts Freeze rule also known as Blocked in ’01 games.

The freeze rule was designed as a handicapping mechanism and for a steel tip dart thrower I find the freeze rule bizarre to say the least. This is basically the rule for team play, soft tip darts.

A player can only “check out” if his or her partner has a score that is equal to or lower than both opponent’s combined scores. If the partner’s score is higher than the combined scores of their opponents the player is “frozen” and cannot win the game at that time. The strategy then is for the player  to get as low as possible in points and hope the partner has a chance to win the game. If someone is frozen and gets to zero, the game will automatically “bust”.

If your league is sanctioned by the National Darts Association  (USA), having your score returned to the value you had at the beginning of the round is contrary to their rules of play. A player who is frozen, and who then takes out the game, should lose the game! But before you get into any confrontation, it’s best to know if the board you are playing are on is in accordance with the National Darts Association (NDA) guidelines regarding the freeze rule.

Wild Bull Electronic Bristle Dart Board Machine

Electronic Bristle Darts Boards.

Electronic or automatic scoring boards have come a long way since 1975. Available now are electronic bristle dart boards. This relatively new scoring unit uses a conventional bristle dart board and steel tip darts and is idea for pubs and clubs that want to generate a bit more cash from us poor dart players. The principles are the same as the soft tip darts i.e. the machine automatically calculates the score achieved and deducts it from the amount you still need to achieve. These boards are more widely available in the USA and other European Countries but I have managed to view one at the Winmau World Masters - Bridlington UK in the recent past.

For more information contact Wild Bull.


To understand the soft tip game better it’s best to involve yourself in a league. In the UK there are few people who play the game and the UK link I had is no longer valid.. In the USA the game is widely played and is as popular as steel tip darts. The top manufactures make nearly as many styles of soft tip darts as they do steel tip so there is no shortage of equipment available for the keen soft tip darter.

If you are interested in learning more about the game I can recommend a book called the ‘A Quiver of 3’ by Timothy R. Bucci. In the book Timothy covers a lot about the Soft Tip Game as well as his views on equipment, building a darts team and winning strategies. His book is available on line. See the link below. Soft-Tip Darts for the New Player: A Quiver of 3 by Timothy Bucci

The book includes the following:

  • Buying the right dart equipment
  • Understanding the Freeze Rule
  • Becoming more confident at the line
  • The best places to practice your game
  • Why clothes can be your worst enemy
  • Practicing without lifting a dart
  • The keys to building a great darts team
  • Creating your own talent surge
  • Understanding "The Zone"

Your can buy the book direct from click here for a direct link.

Lastly just to say I am not the best person to ask which soft tip dart board is the best to play on or tips to use. Information of this nature can be found on a number of soft tip dart sites and from local leagues.

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