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October 1, 2014

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The point of darts: Spirited competition, sure, but also camaraderie

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Sam Morris

Stacy Bromberg throws during a meeting of the Las Vegas Darts league Wednesday, July 2, 2014, at Crowbar.

David Flowers receives a message on Facebook from a friend challenging him to a game of darts. They agree to play in an hour.

When Flowers arrives at his soft-tip darts home, the Crowbar, 1113 S. Rainbow Blvd., he gets back on social media with his smartphone and messages he’s ready to begin.

It’s 2 a.m. in Las Vegas and Crowbar is virtually empty, especially near the row of five electronic dartboards where Flowers stands alone. His challenger isn’t a member of his local leagues, the Southern Nevada Darts Association or Las Vegas Darts.

Rather, the challenger is in Japan. Electronic dartboards keep score for the competitors in different locales, then log the information online with the DARTSLIVE app to calculate player ratings. Flowers has the app on his smartphone.

“It’s global. You can play anyone in the world,” he said. “I’ve played against people I have never met (in person).”

Las Vegas Darts League

Members warm up during a meeting of the Las Vegas Darts league Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at the Crowbar. Launch slideshow »

Where to play

• Crowbar, 1113 S. Rainbow Blvd.

• Aqua Lounge, 6000 Spring Mountain Road

For steel-tip:

• CD’s Sports Lounge, 3025 E. Desert Inn Road

• Rum Runner, 1801 E. Tropicana Ave.

• Little Crown & Anchor, 4755 Spring Mountain Road

Fees

It’s $10 for a 14-week season with Las Vegas Darts, the area’s soft-tip organization. Competitors spend about $4 in game fees each week. Contact Las Vegas Darts through its page on Facebook. The Southern Nevada Darts Association charges a $20 annual membership fee, which covers the league’s affiliation with the American Darters Association. Contact the association at sndadarts.com. Most players join both groups. The groups frequently work together on socials and tournaments.

How to throw like a pro

Tips from Stacy Bromberg, multitime world champion:

1. Similar to excelling in other sports, winning at darts starts with focus and concentration. You have to be zeroed in on the target before throwing.

2. Don’t bend your knees or bounce; lock your leg — if you throw right-handed; lock your right leg

3. Follow through on your shot.

Measurements

The standard height from the floor to the bull’s-eye is 5 feet, 8 inches. Throwing distance from the front of the board to the toeline is 7 to 9.25 feet for steel-tip and 8 feet for soft-tip.

Did you know?

In major darts tournaments, air conditioning is turned off so it doesn’t interfere with participants’ throws.

Not needing your opponent at your side isn’t the only way technology has transformed darts, the throwing game played mostly in bars or basements.

The interactive electronic dartboard keeps score and instructs competitors how many points they need on a specific throw and where to aim to collect those points. Each opponent starts with 501 points and works to lower that number to zero with three throws per turn.

In steel-tip darts, competitors have to calculate the score themselves. It’s part of the game’s challenge. A bad calculation, regardless if you hit your point, can lead to a loss. A dry-erase board is next to the dartboard for keeping the running tally.

The technique and scoring are the same in both steel- and soft-tip darts. But in steel-tip darts, a dart can ‘bounce-out,’ meaning the throw doesn’t stick to the board and no points are awarded. That’s not a problem with soft-tip. As long as the dart hits the board, even if it doesn’t stick, points are credited.

And there’s no online interactivity for steel-tip darts.

“Because of the electronics age with iPads and social media, this brings a younger generation into (darts),” said Pat Carrigan, president of the Southern Nevada Darts Association, the area’s steel-tip group.

Soft-tip games cost fifty cents or $1 at Crowbar, depending on whether it is a league match. For steel-tip games, which also are offered at Crowbar and other establishments across town, play is typically free. Players can leave their ID to borrow darts from the bar or bring their own.

“This game is for everybody,” said Stacy Bromberg, who heads Las Vegas Darts and is a multiple-time Women’s World Darts champion. “You don’t have to be physically fit to play. You don’t have to spend days practicing. You can just show up, make new friends and have a good night.”

Bromberg, 58, makes a decent living off the game and even has her own line of darts. She has traveled around the globe competing in and winning events. She’s won so many prizes, she’s lost count of her accomplishments and medals. Most victories included a cash prize. Later this summer, one of her sponsors is sending her to Japan so she can participate in an exhibition.

She understands both sides of the sport — the competitive and the camaraderie.

But on Wednesdays during one of Las Vegas Darts’ league play nights, she’s in her element helping beginners and recreational players.

Whether it’s working with Flowers, who is in his 20s and is considered the area’s best player, or a retiree still learning the ins and outs of darts, Bromberg’s passion is obvious. Her energy level is unmatched.

“She’s the real deal. Nobody is better. Nobody is more knowledgeable,” Flowers said.

The scene on league play nights tells the story: Most players have a beer and eat chicken wings between throws. They talk about their day, families get to know each other, and frequently, players are so occupied socializing they don’t realize when it’s their turn.

“This is all social,” said Richard Rehm, 66.

Carrigan met his wife, Rose, during a league night almost 20 years ago. They both continue to play.

When Bromberg was diagnosed with cancer, she turned to her dart friends for support. She’s beaten cancer multiple times, using darts for a sense of normalcy and fellowship.

That’s why she has no hesitation using darts to give back to others. For each set of three darts sold from her signature collection, $10 is donated to her “Score For Charity” program. A set of three darts typically costs $55. Since 1996, she says the program has donated more than $100,000 to Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“I just love (darts). This is an incredible group of people,” she said.

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