All you need to play darts is a dartboard, a wall to hang it on, and a set of darts. It doesn’t take much equipment to get started, and for under $100, you can pick up some top-quality gear. This is fine, but if you want to get the most out of the game, you are going to have to shell out some extra bucks.

There is so much darting paraphernalia out there, you can get overwhelmed with the choices. So apart from the basic equipment, what else do you really need for a perfect home setup? Without further ado, here are my must-have items to get the best out of your home darts.

Let There be Light

I cannot stress enough how important good dartboard lighting is. There is nothing more distracting than shadows on the board cast by other darts. Good lighting makes it easier to see what you are aiming at, and will help improve your game. Plus, there is nothing worse than having to walk to the board to check where your dart landed after every shot.

One of the best ways to light your dartboard is with a track light with two adjustable spots. Mount the track light about four feet away from the board, with one spot shining in from the right, and the other coming in from the left. Adjust the spotlight heads to find the right angles that cover the board with light. This flood of light on the dartboard coming from different directions will help cancel out most of the worst shadows. If the room is already well lit, the ambient light along with the spots will reduce the number of shadows even further. Adding a third center spot will further improve visibility.

For an even better solution, use a fluorescent lamp in conjunction with the spotlights. Mount the fluorescent fixture directly above the dartboard. This will give a diffused light across the face of the board and will help eliminate virtually all shadows.

Always Use Protection

If you have your dartboard out in the garage, this might be a moot point. But if you are bringing your dartboard indoors, you need to protect the wall where the board will be mounted.

The most attractive way to protect your wall is with a dartboard cabinet. The beauty of these is they not only conceal your dartboard but usually have built-in chalkboards for scorekeeping and a place to store your darts. Dartboard cabinets can add a finishing touch to your game room as they are available in many finishes, from traditional pub signs to your favorite sports teams, and everything in between. When the cabinet is open, it offers great protection to the left and right of the dartboard, but it doesn’t offer as much protection for errant shots above or below the board.

One of the cheapest ways to protect your walls from stray missiles is with a simple dart backboard. These are available in all kinds of shapes and sizes and cover a greater area than a cabinet would. If you are the handy type, making your own with some plywood and a roll of felt shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.

If you want to go for the match play look, a surround is a great option. This is a ring of dense foam that slips over your board and gives you about four or five inches of added protection around the board. It adds a more authentic match play feel to your darts set up, but it protects a relatively small area, so if you are just starting out, it would be better to avoid this.

Counting Backwards

Writing this stuff down on paper just doesn’t cut it. You need a proper dart scoreboard to mark down your current scores. Having the scoreboard mounted in plain view near the dartboard makes it easier for every player to change their mind after each bad throw. Chalkboards are the most common type of scoreboard, but you can also use a dry erase board. If you play a lot of cricket, look for a board with cricket numbers already marked on it. There are thousands of games you can play with darts, and very few of them require no scoring, so you need a scoreboard.

Floor Your Opponent

One thing well worth investing in is a heavy-duty vinyl dart mat. Dart bounce-outs will happen, and an excellent quality dart mat will help protect your carpets or hardwood floors from these errant darts. All dart mats come marked with throw lines so you don’t have to mark one on your floors, and they can be rolled up and hidden away when not in use.

So there are what I consider the essential items you need for a good home dartboard setup. Not only will you get more out of your dart playing with these, they can also save you money on home renovations.

Stay sharp!