Gone Outdoors

How to Score a Game of Darts

by Kim Nunley

Scoring darts can seem overwhelming at first, but will make more sense once you understand the layout of the board. A round dart board features 20 sections. The particular section a dart hits dictates what score you receive. The most common darts game is called 501, which involves bringing your score from 501 down to zero quicker than your opponent. A scorekeeper keeps track of points scored in each round and how many points you have remaining on a board that’s visible at all times.

The Dart Board

A dart board is 17.75 inches in diameter and is separated into 20 different sections. Each of these sections is separated with thin metal wires. Around the far edges of the board are numbers, ranging from one to 20. Just inside the numbers is a thin section made of wire that’s referred to the double ring. There is another thin section made of wire further in toward the center of the circle that’s referred to as the triple ring. At the center of the board are the outer and inner bullseyes, different-sized circles created with the thin wire.

Scoring By the Numbers

Where your dart hits on the board influences what score you receive. Darts that land within the larger sections but not within the double, triple or bullseye sections, receive a score equal to that particular section’s number. For example, a dart landing in this larger area of a section assigned with a point value of 14 receives a score of 14. If the dart lands within the double section, it earns double points. If a dart lands within the triple section, it earns triple points. Darts that land within the outer bullseye receive 25 points and darts that land within the inner bullseye score 50 points. A dart that hits outside the wire or doesn’t stick into the board scores a zero.

Playing 501

In the game of 501, both players begin with a score of 501. The goal is to get the score down to zero before your opponent. Each player throws three darts per round with the intention of scoring as many points as possible. For example, if you hit 25, 50 and 12, your score that round would be 87. The highest score possible in a round is 180, which is achieved by hitting the triple twenty with all three darts. After you’re finished with your round, your opponent gets to throw three darts. To win the game, not only do you need to bring your score down to exactly zero, but you have to hit your dart within the double section with your final dart. If you fail to hit a double or end up with a score below zero, your opponent gets to go and you have to wait for your next turn.

Keeping Track of Scores

A scorekeeper who is not participating in the game keeps track of the score. For 501, a scoreboard or sheet of paper is typically posted on a nearby wall. The scoreboard is split into two pairs of two columns, with each pair of columns assigned to a player. In each player’s left column, the scorekeeper keeps track of a player’s score for each round. The space in the right column is used to keep track of the countdown from 501. For example, if you scored 87 on your first round, the scorekeeper would write 87 at the top of the left column and 414 at the top of the right column. If you then scored 100 on your second round, the scorekeeper would write 100 just below 87 in the left column and then 313 just below 414 at the top of the right column.

About the Author

Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.

Photo Credits

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