Widely available to play at pubs and clubs, darts have become increasingly popular as a social game to show off your skills. While getting repeated bullseyes can garner you some attention, so can embarrassing moments like seeing your darts bounce off the boards. But why does this happen if you’ve already practiced beforehand?
One of the best explanations for your darts bouncing off may be that they have a blunt tip. Darts typically stay on the board when the tip is sharp enough to penetrate through the fibers of the dartboard. Unfortunately, having a blunt dart tip hinders your dart from doing that and results in the embarrassing experience of your darts bouncing off.
So, what can you do to restore your darts to their former glory of sharper days? While you may consider investing in a dart sharper, a better method that’s far more affordable is to use sandpaper.
What Type of Sandpaper Should You Use to Sharpen a Dart?
Widely available in any local hardware store, using sandpaper is a great and affordable way to sharpen your dart tips. If this is your first time using sandpaper for your darts, here are some tips on how to pick the best type of sandpaper for the job:
Fine Grit Sandpaper
Fine grit sandpaper is typically used to smoothen most surfaces following a DIY project. When it comes to sharpening darts, fine-grit sandpaper would work well to even out the tip, so it’s no longer blunt.
The reason why fine-grit sandpaper is ideal for this job is that it’s gentle enough to not grind away too much steel from your dart tip but remains gritty enough to sharpen the blunted dart.
We recommend using 800 grit sandpaper like this one when sharpening your dart tip. Fine grit sandpaper will do a great job at sharpening a dull dart tip without removing too much steel.
Coarse Grit Sandpaper
Although coarse grit sandpaper can be used for a variety of DIY projects, it can be too harsh for your dart tips. As such, you’ll want to avoid using coarse grit sandpaper unless it’s necessary.
This is as coarse grit sandpaper can strip your dart tips of its natural steel materials, causing the tip to thin out and break easily. In fact, many players may have the misconception that using coarse grit sandpaper will make sharpening their darts easier, but this isn’t often the case.
If you can’t get ahold of any sandpaper, you can also substitute it with grinding paper to sharpen your dart tips.
Similar to the texture of fine-grit sandpaper, the grinding paper is also gentle enough to help sharpen your darts without stripping too much steel off the tip.
How to Sharpen Your Darts With Sandpaper the Right Way
When sharpening your darts with sandpaper, you’ll want to ensure you don’t get your dart tips to be overly sharp.
Retaining an even grind around the tip is also key to ensuring you don’t damage your darts or your dartboard as you throw. Below are 2 different methods on how to sharpen your darts with sandpaper the right way.
Lay down your sandpaper on a flat surface – it can be a table or floor, depending on what you’re most comfortable with. Gently grind your dart tip back and forth on the sandpaper, ensuring that you spin the dart as you grind the tips. This will help ensure you sharpen the dart tip evenly.
Be sure to stop every few seconds to check that your dart tips are not overly sharpened. Instead, try to aim for a sharp tip that features a rounded point.
Roll the sandpaper over your dart, ensuring to cover an even surface of the dart tip. Hold the dart tip that has been covered with your thumb and index finger and spin the dart with your other hand. This creates a sharpening effect between the dart and the sandpaper.
Stop every few seconds to check on your dart tips. Like the first method, you don’t want a dart tip that is too sharp. Your aim here is to achieve a dart tip with a rounded end but isn’t so blunt that it will bounce off the dartboard when you throw it.
What Happens if Your Darts Are Too Sharp?
Despite the importance of sharpening your dart tips, many professional players will tell you that you should never leave them overly sharp. But why is this an important point to take note of, and what happens if your darts are too sharp?
For starters, there are higher chances for you to hit the wiring around your dartboard. Also known as spiders on a dartboard, these metal wirings help to indicate the points on your dartboard.
Unfortunately, the use of darts with overly sharp tips will only cause you to hit the spiders and end up with a bounced-off dart.
Aside from a bruised ego, the frequent impact that your dart has to suffer from these throws can damage your dart’s tips and shafts.
Why Does a Dart Bounce off When It’s Too Blunt?
On the flip side, you also don’t want to play when your darts are too blunt. There are several reasons behind this, with the most common being that your darts are likelier to bounce off the dartboard.
Separately, playing with blunt darts can prematurely damage your dartboard, and the damages are often irreversible.
The main reason why your darts don’t hold when they’re blunt is because of the material of your dartboard. Often made of a fine fiber known as sisal fibers, the dartboard’s main objective is to grab onto your darts as you make a throw.
Unfortunately, when your darts are too blunt, they don’t hold as well because the tip doesn’t grip between the fibers.
As a result, your darts are likelier to bounce off, causing you to lose points. But that’s not all that blunt darts can do. Throwing blunt darts at your dartboard can also damage your dartboard to a point where you need to change them often.
This is due to the way the fibers are packed together. As the blunt darts hit your dartboard often, your fibers will eventually get flattened on the board. Over time, you’ll realize that the board will no longer hold your darts, regardless if they’re sharp or not.
Therefore, it’s important to never throw a blunt dart against your dartboard.
How to Know When to Sharpen Your Darts
Beginner players may often wonder when they should sharpen their darts. Typically, the best answer to this question is to sharpen your darts each time you play.
This is as you’ll never know if your dart tip has become blunt during storage or from the last time you’ve picked it up.
However, it’s always advisable for you to inspect your dart tips before you head on to sharpen them with sandpaper. If you feel like the dart tips are sharp enough with a rounded tip, then you can omit to sharpen it altogether.
New darts, especially those made of steel, should always be sharpened before playing. This is as new darts often feature a layer of polish, causing it to lose its grip from the dartboard when used out of the packet.
By gently sharpening before your first use, you’ll help create a rough texture to the dart tip that grips the dartboard better.
This significantly reduces the chances of your darts bouncing off the dartboard and saves your overall dart gaming experience with your new darts.
Sharpening your darts is one of the best ways to prevent bounce outs during a match.
Other variables like the type of dartboard you’re playing on, or how you throw your darts also effect bounce outs, but a dull dart tip will be the the primary cause.
Remember to use fine grit sandpaper, we recommend 800 grit, to properly sharpen a dull dart tip without grinding too much of the steel away or making it too coarse.