The origins of darts most likely date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. The ‘board’ would have been a section of a tree trunk and the darts stubs of arrows or crossbow bolts. The circular rings in the tree trunk would have given rise to the pattern of the modern dartboard as we know it today. There is a dispute over how the standard numbered point system was established, although some believe it belongs to a Lancashire carpenter named Brian Gamlin. Over the years several different configurations have been used, including board sizes that differ from the Standard size. For example, the Manchester Log End boards is smaller and together with the Yorkshire Log End boards, have no triple. These two boards only have the double and bullseye. Another variation is the London Fives board that is divided into only 12 equal segments, as opposed to the 20 equal segments of the Standard board.
Dartboards were originally made of solid elm wood. The problem with this was usually after a while a small hole would appear by the treble twenty. In addition, the wood required periodic soaking to keep the board soft. The breakthrough in design came in 1935 when Ted Leggatt and Frank Dabbs decided to experiment with the century plant (aka American aloe). The plant is native to Mexico and the United States, in particular New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. The sisal fibers of the same length were bundled together, compressed into a disk and then bound with a metal ring. This worked very well as the darts did very little damage and the board needed minimal maintenance. The first purpose-made darts were constructed from wood, covered with a strip of lead for weight, with the flight made more possible with fitted split turkey feathers. By the late 1950s, metal barrels were used, and by the 1970s, plastic was also widely used.
Today the World Darts Federation (WDF) is the highest recognised authority for the sport of Darts. The federation was formed in 1974 by fourteen founding members. WDF is responsible for promoting the game within its member nations and to other nations around the world. WDF is a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the Alliance of Independent Recognised Members of Sport (AIMS), and the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF). WDF, together with the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), are the organisers of tournaments around the world. The main tournament is the WDF World Cup where the winner becomes the official world champion. In addition, associate members include the British Darts Organisation and the World Disability Darts Association.