Yard darts, also known as lawn darts, was one of the quintessential backyard games of the 1970s and 80s. Similar to traditional darts, players threw game pieces at targets to see who could score the most points. However, in yard darts, targets and darts are on a much larger scale.
However, the sell of commercial versions of lawn darts have been shrouded in controversy for over 30 due to safety concerns. Fortunately, fun DIY versions are easy to make and safe to play with.
You can play by traditional lawn darts rules, or have fun making up your own for a customized good time.
What are Yard Darts
Yard darts (lawn darts) is an outdoor game where players try to throw their game pieces, in this case darts, to hit a target.
Each player or team can have between 1 to 6 darts and take turns throwing pieces towards a target.
Points are awarded if players land their darts inside of the target zone, or have their pieces land closer to the target than their opponents.
Basic Set Up for Yard Darts
The great thing about yard darts is the versatility and customization that can be incorporated into the game.
For example, even though yard darts are traditionally played on a grass lawn, they can also be played on hard surfaces like concrete and rubber padded surfaces as long as the darts suit the surface.
Making the Target
To play yard darts, all that you need are hoops to serve as targets, something to mark the throwing line, and darts.
For the target, hula hoops are ideal for the target since they are usually cheap and easy to transport.
If you don’t have a hula hoop, here are some other items you can use as targets:
- Jump rope or other rope placed as a circle on the lawn
- Chalk paint or side walk chalk (if using a hard surface)
- Building blocks placed as a circle on the ground
- Pool noodles duct taped together to form a circle
- Rocks placed in a circle
There is no set circumference for the target.
The size of the circle depends entirely on your preference.
If you are playing with small children, the circle can be enlarged so that the child can throw the darts without too much difficulty.
However, if the players are older the circle can be made smaller to make it more challenging.
Place the circle far enough away to make it difficult, but not impossible for the players to land their darts in the target area.
Making the Throwing Line
Once the target is placed, make a throwing line several yards away. This will serve as the starting line that players are not allowed to cross while throwing.
This line can be made by a rope, painted on, or marked in any other form as long as it is visible to the players.
Making Yard Darts
Traditional lawn darts are large versions of traditional darts, complete with pointed spike that lodges itself into the grass when thrown.
However, the thought of throwing short javelins around children may raise safety concerns for some parents.
So instead, here are some safer alternatives to the traditionally pointed darts:
- Paper airplanes out of poster board
- Pool noodles with tennis balls taped to one end
- Soda bottles filled with sand
- Blunt headed arrows
- PVC pipes with rubber balls glued or taped at the end
- Empty paper towel rolls with ends sealed with tape that are filled with sand
Not only will playing with nontraditional darts be safer, it also adds a whole new fun element to the game.
By using non-pointy darts, there is no damage to surfaces and you don’t have to worry about participants getting impaled if things get out of hand.
Basic Rules and Scoring of Yard Darts
With your setup complete and your darts at the ready, its time to play some yard darts.
The aim of the game is to get more points than your opponent.
If a dart reaches the target zone, than the player is awarded two points.
However, those points are canceled out if the other player also gets their dart in the target zone.
For example, if player A gets their dart into the target zone, and player B gets their dart into the target zone, than neither one will get any points since they cancel each other out.
If neither player’s dart ends up in the target zone, than one point will be awarded to the player whose piece landed closest to the target.
The players need to decide before the beginning of the game how many rounds will be played.
The winner is the player with the most points at the end of the game.
Yard Darts Variations
The fun thing about Yard Darts is the fun variations you can come up with.
For example, you can make different targets with different point values, similar to a game of corn hole.
Here are some other ideas for yard dart games:
- Use small inflatable pools as targets
- Blindfold players when they throw
- Have a bowl with funny actions that the player must preform if they miss or make a target
- Attach water balloons to PVC pipes or pool noodles and see who can break the most.
- In bowl, have the players draw a funny action they must preform while throwing the dart
- If using lighter darts, divide players into teams of two. Place a line before the target and have one person hold up the hoop for the other player to throw through without crossing over their line
- Using sponges for darts, soak the sponges with water and throw them at a person that stands as the target (water balloons can also be used)
History of Yard Darts
Yard darts, also known as lawn darts, or jarts, were invented in the 1950’s but became very popular outdoor game in the 1970’s.
The idea behind it was to marry the game of darts to the game of horseshoes.
Several toy manufactures produced different versions of yard darts, however most versions included four darts and two plastic targets.
The darts were weighted in the front by steel or other metal tips with plastic wings to help with the darts aerodynamics so it would be thrown easily and accurately at the team’s target.
Although the darts weren’t sharp enough to cut someone that was throwing them, the tips were sharp enough to become lodged into the grass.
The original intention of toy manufactures was to target marketing of yard darts to adults, not children.
However, children seemed to like the ideal of throwing pint sized javelins at targets, and sometimes each other, so many families bought them as a family fun outdoor game.
As could be expected, several people got hurt and families sued toy manufactures and lobbied the government for safer standards of toys.
In 1988, traditional yard darts officially became a banned toy.
Yard dart sets that are sold today have a softer tip that is safer to be used by children.
Fun Outdoor Games for the Family
Although traditional yard darts proved to be dangerous for families, the idea of going outside and spending time together is not a wasted idea.
Sometimes in our day and age, it is easy to place a child in front of a screen, or become absorbed with the newsfeed on our devices.
Even though electronics is a easy and convenient form of entertainment, let’s not forget the fun that can be found outside.
Take time to make some memories, not the kind that are stored on a videogame memory card, but the kind you make in real life.
Rediscover how to have fun with others outside, using your imagination to reinvent games from your past.
Grow closer to each other as you relearn how to play, the way you did in the world before smartphones and streaming television.
By taking the time to play now, you can create the memories that can be shared with those around you, and not with pixilated images of characters on screens.
Let’s play some lawn darts!