Soft-tip Dartboards

Soft-tip Darts

Soft-tip Dartboards

Soft-tip Electronic Dartboards


Have you never heard of soft-tip darts? Then you should have!


Soft-tip Dartboard

Soft-tip darts have been around for decades. However, people in the UK may have never seen a soft-tip dartboard, although they are widely available. Dart players in the UK are generally darts purists, and the steel-tip dart on a sisal dartboard will do. I suppose I also place myself in the same category, but yes, I have played on a professional soft-tip darts dartboard. Personally, I found the scoring area bigger. I suppose you could say that you throw further away; both are true.

The rules differ, inner and outer bullseye scoring the same, and both segments can be used to finish a game! So why don’t more people play? Well, they do.

It may be the UK, which hasn’t adopted the soft-tip dartboard craze as other countries have. Indeed, soft-tip darts are bigger or as large as steel-tip in certain countries. The USA and Asia are hot spots, but parts of Europe also play regular soft-tip darts.


So, how did Soft-Tip darts start?

Besides my old favourite, a chalkboard, many devices are available to score a darts leg or match for you. The development of soft-tipped darts resulted from an American, Rudy Alison, who visited Ireland and viewed a local darts match. He watched how some struggled to mark the game. With his company Arachid, which then made balloon inflators, he hired Dick Jones to help develop a self-scoring dartboard, the result, the first soft-tip, self-scoring dartboard. But to the purists of the game, soft-tip darts weren’t darts. Nevertheless, Soft-tip dart is a game played by millions across America, Asia and Europe, less so in the British Isles and Ireland.

A modern Soft-tip dartboard is made from plastic/nylon and features thousands of holes within the scoring area. This allows a dart (soft-tip) point to penetrate the surface; the electronic behind does the rest! The first board was made and drilled by hand. The dart steel-tip dart was modified.

Due to the nature of the soft-tip dartboard, a further restriction of dart weight is imposed to protect the board.

Additionally, if a soft-tp dart hits the board but falls to the ground, the score is still registered, unlike in the steel-tip game, where the points are lost.

I compare the soft-tp dartboard to that of a club snooker table, where the pockets are usually wider than the table used on the professional circuit. Nevertheless, if you are good enough, there is a soft-tip world championship and big prize money.



Dartboard Setup

If you play Soft-tip darts in a bar, you are likely to play on a large vending dartboard machine, and these boards are set at the correct height. For home installation, you are unlikely to have such a machine. However, one UK supplier used to allow you to buy or rent these machines from SOFT TIP UK. Unfortunately, it seems the UK is a hard nut to crack when it comes to the soft-tip darts, and sadly the Soft Tip UK website no longer seems to be live.

Wall-mounted soft-tip dartboards can are available from most UK dart suppliers.

The Soft-tip dartboard setup is different from the Steel-Tip (Sisal) Standard Dartboard. The hanging height is the same 5ft 8ins / 1.73m from the ground to the centre Bullseye. The throwing distances 8ft (2.43m)

Dartboard Set-up - Copyright Darts501 / D.King

A: Height to Centre Bull B: Centre Bull to Oche C: Throw Distance
5ft 8ins / 1.73m 9' 9 ¾" / 2.99m 8ft 0ins / 2.44m



A variety of games can be played on the Soft-tip Dartboard and with electronic marking it makes each game quick. Most tournaments have a mixture of #01 Games i.e. 701 and Cricket. (See Games) Also see the FREEZE RULE and dart weight restrictions.

Soft-tip darts are played widely across the World and are bigger than the Steel-tip dart we generally play in the UK.

Steel-tip dart users may at first find some of the rules a little confusing so here are the basic differences.

Usually, a dart match consists of 701 and Cricket. With Soft-tip Darts the Bull / Outer Bull count as 50, not 50 and 25 as on a steel tip Bristle sisal dartboard. Also, if a dart hits a scoring segment of the board but falls out it still counts!

Players tend to throw for the Bullseye to reduce their scores in 701 games as this is a bigger scoring area than the treble twenty and as both the inner and outer bullseye both score 50 points you will soon find out why! You can also finish the 701 matches on the inner or outer bull. To cap it all the scoring segments are bigger!

I have selected this YouTube Video to demonstrate the game. However, a great soft-tip website is


View this video on YouTube  


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 in the 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. However, you don’t see this in the championship matches.


Want to Learn More?


A quiver of 3 by Timothy r. Bucci

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 online. See the link below.

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

Practising without lifting a dart

The keys to building a great darts team

Creating your own talent surge

Understanding "The Zone"

You can buy the book direct from


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. Personally, I find this an easier game to play even though the throwing distance is longer. I could quite easily hit a 180 with a standard set of soft-tip darts I was supplied and although the soft-tip darts do have some advantages over steel-tip I think it can be unfair to compare the two games as they are different.

A good steel-tip player will find soft-tip darts a little easier while a soft-tip dart player tends to find the steel-tip game a little more difficult. This is not only because the scoring segments are of different size but the soft-tip player will tend to concentrate on the bull for scoring and on a steel-tip (sisal) dartboard the point value is only worth 25 for an outer bullseye.

While using the Soft-tip dartboard I asked others their thoughts and they gave the game high praise and enjoyed playing on the electronic machine more than a steel-tip. I suppose everyone has their own preference and a few more machines seem to be hitting our shores.



World-Softtip- Champions World Soft-tip Darts Champions

World Soft-tip Darts Finals consist of several stage rounds where a player can earn points to an overall event achievement. Unlike steel-tip darts matches played in the PDC / WDF, soft-tip darts best of 5 - 7 games. These games include 701 and Cricket and a point is awarded to the winner of each game. Unfortunately, I do not have the full break down of results or indeed a list of past runners-up. Should I managed to obtain these from an authority source I will publish the missing detail.

Learn more about the Soft-tip World Championships


Electronic Steel-tip Dartboard Machines


Electronic or automatic scoring boards have come a long way since 1975. Available now are electronic bristle dartboards. This relatively new scoring unit uses a conventional bristle dart board and steel tip darts and is an 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 a several years ago.

Merlin Darts supplied the Wild Bull machines on display to use at the Winmau Masters. However, their website no longer seems to be live. But the Wild Bull machines can still be found via BMI Games. I have also found another supplier that uses the Winmau sisal dartboard and again is an automatic scoring machine. They are called Fido Darts, and along with their app you can to log, you can keep track of your records. These electronic machines, like many of the soft-tip, also allow you to play players via the world wide web.


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