So, you want to create your very own professional looking darts room at home? Then you’ll need to make sure you have the right kit, including the best dart board to complete the set up.
The Professional Dart Corporation (PDC) use the Unicorn Eclipse Pro dartboards at all major televised events on both Sky and terrestrial channels, and have done since the 1997 World Championships. Unicorn Eclipse Pros are Bristle dartboards.
At the time of publication, Unicorn have a deal with the PDC to supply dartboards for all major events through until 2022. This will complete a 25-year prosperous partnership for both brands.
The Unicorn dartboards used by the PDC are favoured by pros and amateurs alike as they have incredibly thin segmenting wires which help maximise the scoring target areas to increase players averages. The boards are also known for their high contrast colors, and excellent manufacturing quality meaning the boards hold their shape throw after throw and remain clear and visible for many years of regular use.
You can pick up your own Unicorn Eclipse Pro from Amazon:
Unicorn Eclipse Pro
Check out the Unicorn Eclipse Pro on Amazon. The Pro is used for all televised PDC events and made of high quality Sisal hemp fibers to maximise the lifespan of your board.
What is the difference between the BDO and PDC dartboards?
The British Darts Organisation (BDO) is another recognised darts organisation who are long-time rivals to the PDC. As such, both organisations have different sponsorship deals and arrangements to draw a clear distinction between them.
The British Darts Organisation (BDO) use One80 Gladiator 3 dart boards from 2019 through to 2024 for all BDO run events.
One80 is a much newer brand than its PDC used Unicorn counterpart, founded in 2005 compared to 1937 for Unicorn, and initially focussed on the Asian markets before they diversified through a series of acquisitions to European and north American markets. One80 have grown their player sponsorship list in recent years and at the time of publication sponsor 19 players around the world primarily in Asia and Europe.
In terms of dartboard quality, both dartboards are made from similar materials, primarily using sisal hemp fibers as is now the industry standard, which I have covered later in this article, both have excellent thin segmentation wire to maximise the scoring areas on the board whilst sticking to the BDO and PDC dartboard specification requirements but with slight variation in their colors. Some players will prefer the more vivid unicorn boards whereas some will enjoy the high contract and deep black of the One80.
You can pick up your very own One80 Gladiator 3 from Amazon:
One80 Gladiator 3
Check out the superb Gladiator 3+ from One80, as used in all BDO organised darts events. Made of Sisal Fibers for a long lasting, self-healing surface, if you’re after a great board for amateur and pro alike, look no further.
What is a Bristle Dart Board?
Bristle dartboards are made of compressed fibers called sisal hemp. These fibres are then pressed into layers to form the main body of the dartboard.
You’ll notice when you shop around and look at dartboards that almost all of the major dart brands now use sisal hemp to build their boards, the reasons for this are very simple:
Sisal is durable
Sisal fibers are very strong, especially in tension. They can typically withstand 400-700MPa of tensile force. To put that into context, typical steel used in construction is around 355MPa! With fibers that are as strong as steel you can see why sisal dartboard last a long time and can withstand constant bombardment from steel tipper darts.
Sisal is coarse
Another great benefit of sisal is that its coarse. This means that when you throw your darts the darts will have extra grip when they strike the board making them less likely to bounce off your board. This can help compensate for beginners who may not throw as hard or are more likely to strike the wire segments and its why sisal fiber boards are loved by players across all ability ranges.
Sisal is inexpensive
Sisal is also surprisingly inexpensive for the quality of dartboard you can make from it. When compared to more traditional cork boards the benefits of sisal fibers make the traditional cork board redundant. Why have a cork board with a short life, high likelihood to bounce darts when for a similar price you can have a board which will last you longer and improve your dart score without changing your action!
Sisal can be self-healing
As the board is made from lots of fibers compressed together, when your dart strikes the board it dislodges some of the sisal so that the tip can embed in the board. The sisal is constantly pushing back against the dart tip trying to get back to its original position, so when you remove the dart from the board the sisal should ping back into its position giving the impression of self-healing and not showing any significant marks. Now, of course, over time the sisal will start to lose some of its shape and your board will start getting marks. That’s the time to consider a new board.
How Long Does a Bristle Dartboard Last?
Both the PDC and the BDO replace their dartboard regularly, usually between matches to ensure that players are all on an even playing field between games and have the same high-quality boards to throw at. But that doesn’t mean you have to swap your board over every time you finish playing at home!
If you are a regular player, a bristle dartboard will last you about 1-2 years. If you are using your board every day for continuous play expect this to be shorter and if you play infrequently your board can last significantly longer, often as long as 3-5 years.
If you only play occasionally and maintain your board, there is no reason why it can’t last much longer!
The first signs of wear and tear are typically around the frequently hit areas of your board such as triple 20. Some of the affects of this can be mitigated by turning your dartboard regularly, this is done by removing the wire from your board and twisting the sisal board below before re-attaching your wire, but over time the sisal fibres will become permanently dislodged and lose their tension with holes starting to appear on your board surface.
The lifespan of your board will also be reduced if your board is exposed to moisture. Sisal fibers can lose some of their tensile force when wet, this is the equivalent of having a bow string that isn’t stressed enough, this means they lose some of their ‘self-healing’ ability and your board will become damaged quicker when the fibres can’t spring back into position. That’s why I always recommend that your board is stored in a dry, heated indoor environment to prevent the sisal fibers getting stretched. This will reduce the frequency of buying dartboards.
Where Can I get a Unicorn Eclipse?
The PDC favourite, Unicorn Eclipse Pro can be found in most dart shops and is one of the leading brands in darts. The boards are typically reasonably priced even though the brand is one of the best known in darts it hasn’t suffered too much from brand price inflation.
You can see the latest price here on Amazon
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