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The Game of Darts

In the bar of every English "pub" there is a dart-board, and on most evenings you will find the game of darts being played. This is a traditional English game, and it presumably developed from archery, which was much encouraged for military reasons during the Middle Ages. The first record of something like the modern game appears in a sixteenth century description of a tournament where people threw missiles at a target by hand, instead of using a bow. The Pilgrim Fathers,* who sailed in the Mayflower to America in 1620 in search of greater freedom, played darts during their voyage.

* (Pilgrim Fathers - a group of puritan objectors in the Church of England who to escape prosecution sailed in the Mayflower and founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony; throughout the 17th century they were followed by similar groups who fled the country in order to enjoy religious freedom.)

The dart-board has numbered sections, and the score depends on the section in which the dart lands. The darts are small, about five inches long, and have a steel point, a metal body, and three feathers. A set of three darts is used and each player throws them in turn. Expert players usually have their own private set of darts, but pubs always provide a set for occasional performers. Style is a matter for the individual; but you must have a good eye and steady hand - not always easy in a pub!

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