Horse Hair Dartboards: What Are They Really?

Dartboards are used in competitive games known as darts. With the use of bigger and missile-shaped pins that have sharp front edges and back edges made out of feathers, also known actually as ‘darts,’ players compete in the game by throwing these darts onto a round target being the dartboard.

Dartboards are said to be made out of interesting materials. These materials are supposed to be horsehair, pig bristle, or camel hair.

However, is it really true? Are people really not bluffing about it? Most people claim their dartboards to be real, high-quality dartboards because they’re made out of those said materials.

Sorry to break it to them; there are no such records about boards being made with the use of animal fibers. 

Where the Horsehair Dartboard Myth Comes From?

Closeup View of a Dartboard

The bristle material is at times mistaken for horsehair. That’s why the inception of bristle dartboards being made out of horsehair still lives up to this day. 

Horsehair is a material commonly used on mattresses due to their non-allergenic properties plus the strength and texture they bring. There are dartboards, however, that are made of materials similar to horsehair hence the myth in the first place.

Oftentimes, what people think is a horsehair dartboard is actually just bristle dartboards. Bristle dartboards are actually made out of sisal fibers. It’s a very stiff and super-durable material that is extracted from the Agave Sisalana plant. 

The properties of the sisal fibers are very similar to that of horsehair hence given the nickname “vegetable horsehair.” When you see someone saying “horsehair dartboards,” what they could actually be referring to is “bristle dartboards.”

Since dartboards were never made out of horsehair, it begs the question: what are dartboards really made of? The further questions, ‘when were they created’ and ‘why these materials’, will also be answered in the following.

What Are Dartboards Actually Made Of?

There are various types of dartboards made of different materials. These materials are cork, paper, sisal, and plastic. They’ll be listed below from worst to best.

1. Cork Dartboards

Cork dartboards are one of the types of dartboards as of today. Corks are definitely not one of the best materials to use for things like dartboards.

Usually, it easily gets worn out, which makes it not the best, especially if the one using the dartboard is throwing heavy darts. If you’re a heavy dart thrower, the cork dartboard won’t even last for a week.

Well, if you’re low on budget or looking for a training dartboard, then you might as well give it a try then.

2. Wound Paper Dartboards

Wound paper is one of the materials used to manufacture some of the dartboards today. In a wound paper dartboard, the wound paper is multi-layered, which makes it considerably durable than the cork dartboard. 

It’s also pretty budget-friendly. It may be durable and multi-layered, but heavy dart throwers could easily tear them off, leading the dartboard to be unfixable. 

Despite it being a bit more durable than the cork dartboards, there are higher chances for it to last for no more than a few days.

3. Bristle Dartboards

Bristle dartboards are actually made out of sisal fibers. It’s a very stiff and super-durable material that is extracted from the Agave Sisalana plant.

Back in the 1930s, A company that goes by the name of Nodor used sisal fiber to develop the bristle dartboards we have today. The primary idea for this was to make dartboards out of many bundles of sisal rope that are readily available. 

Sisal fibers of the bristle dartboard are braided out of the bundles of rope, which results in the shape of a tube. They are then cut into slices then pressed down to a circular shape; the shape then becomes the shape of the dartboard in current manufacture.

As time passed, the idea progressed up to the modern-day, and they’re now called bristle dartboards. ‘Bristle’ only refers to the stiff nature of the dartboard’s material, sisal fiber, which is apparently the same exact material used for making scrub brushes, ropes, clothes, and papers.

Bristle dartboards are arguably and plausibly one of the best types of dartboards to get out there. 

Not only is it super durable, but it also recovers itself from the damages of the darts over time, making it last for a long while. Further, it’s available almost everywhere at a very reasonable price.

Sisal fibers and animal fibers may look similar, but in terms of uniformity and grip, animal fibers don’t stand a chance. Animal fibers are soft and could barely hold themselves together, which is the reason why animals easily shed hairs or furs.

While the bristle dartboards live with a high fatality rate and also sell at a reasonably low price, you might as well buy one! It may not be as budget-friendly compared to the others, but it’s worth its price. 

If you also plan to use the dartboard for competitive purposes, you might as well get it over the others since the others could barely last for a while.

4. Electronic Dartboards (Plastic Dartboards)

Last but definitely not the least, we have electronic dartboards. Electronic dartboards are easier to manufacture today due to the technological advancements we’ve made over the course of time since the discovery of bristle dartboards. 

Electronic dartboards are made from plastic and live significantly longer than the usual bristle dartboards; because of that, this becomes the perfect dartboard, next to bristle dartboards, for heavy dart throwers. It may live longer, but bristle dartboards are still pretty good. 

Not only could electronic dartboards live for a very long time, but it also has a pre-programmed scoring system. For each section the dart lands on, it’ll automatically show the points scored from that throw. 

Yes, electronic dartboards could live for a surreal amount of time and even have a pre-programmed scoring system for competitions between dartists. However, since it’s an electronic dartboard, it won’t be budget-friendly compared to the many other types of dartboards mentioned above. 

Final Words

By now, you know that dartboards aren’t actually made out of horsehair, pig bristle, nor camel hair. It definitely sounds fancy and plausibly good material for ‘real’ and ‘high quality’ dartboards. 

But sad to say, it was only an inception that remained on the surface ever since the game of ‘darts’ started. 

You should rather check out dartboards made out of cork, paper, sisal, or plastic and opt for one if it fits the circumstances. Overall, bristle dartboards are highly recommended since they’re very durable for their price.

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Fred Corder - SportsDean
Fred Corder
Fred Corder found his love for darts later in life after graduating from college in 2012. Now, for almost ten years, he has been helping others learn the best methods and tricks for improving their focus and precision and is enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge with a broader audience here.

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