BY BOB KEENAN
Mention “Darts” and most folks’ imagine a pub setting, maybe Irish, maybe English, and a dartboard, of course. Clustered nearby are two groups of guys, pints of beer held in their workingman’s hands, as they encourage teammates, throwing feathered, wooden missiles at the bulls-eye. Seldom imagined among the competitors is a dartist of the female persuasion.
A lot has changed since your grandpa’s darts. The feathered, wooden missiles for starters, they’re tungsten steel now with durable plastic “feathers,” a.k.a., flights. The game has also strayed far beyond the confines of Irish or English pubs to spread around the civilized world, in cities like Shanghai, Berlin, Rio to name a few non-obvious localities. Nearer and dearer to home, Rockland County supports two dart leagues – yep, that’s two.
Alongside your workingman players may be found lawyers, bankers, teachers, wives and husbands, all enjoying the simple pleasures of the game, the fun of friendly competition and camaraderie. So, why the popularity of the Game of Darts, in particular among women? The field of play is just about as level as level gets between the sexes. Eye-hand coordination and finesse underpin the game, not bulging muscles.
Over the years, many a determined lady dartist and her well-aimed throws have sure enough brought me up short. In fact, neither of the Rockland leagues offer awards in “male and female only” categories at their Awards Dinners/Festivities. It’s all about who throws the best, not the gender of the player.
Part of the appeal of darts is its simplicity. There are two basic games, Cricket and 301, easy to learn, along with the basic skill needed for competition. True, honing that basic skill to “perfection” takes a bit of “practice makes perfect” but is quite do-able.
Darts is inexpensive to boot. The various cafes, pubs and bars throughout Rockland cover their team’s league entry fee. Equipment-wise, other than a handy-dandy dartboard found hanging in all participating venues, a player only requires a set of darts to compete. The cost of a typical set ranges anywhere from $35 to $100 or so.
Add a dash of competitive spirit to the mix and a new player is soon on her or his merry way. To keep the matches relatively even for newbies, both Rockland leagues distribute their teams between experienced and inexperienced divisions. New players are provided time to “develop” before eventually competing with more experienced dartists.
So, if you are interested in exploring the Game of Darts, try a season of competition. Both Rockland County dart leagues are always on the look-out for players to form new teams and the upcoming Fall-Winter season begins in mid-September (details follow at the end of the article.) In the Thursday Pearl River Dart League, the weekly matches are shorter in length, starting at 7:30 p.m. and finishing around 10 p.m. The Tuesday matches in the Players Dart League start at the same time but generally finish about 11 p.m. due to the greater amount of games played per match.
You will need a set of darts. The Dart Emporium, “A Touch of England” on Kinderkamack Road in Oradell, NJ, has been dedicated to darts and darting paraphernalia for more than three decades. Darts-wise in our area, the shop is absolutely the best to discover your heart’s content. The proprietor offers a wide variety of sets to throw at her practice dartboard. Test as many sets for as long as you wish and take advantage of her friendly, expert guidance.
Again, the 2016-17 Fall-Winter season starts mid-September. The Thursday Pearl River Dart League is smaller; most of the venues are local to the town or nearby. For registration information: text/call 845-787-7341, email: [email protected] or go to Facebook @TPRDarts.
The Players Dart League competes in matches across the eastern-half of Rockland on Tuesdays. For registration info: text/call 845-536-3069, email: [email protected] or go to Facebook @RocklandCountyPDL.
Throw well and prosper, gentle dartists!