There are two types of darts: soft tip and steel tip. If you own soft tip darts then you may be wondering if you can use them at your local venue that has a bristle board, or if it’ll cause any damage or not work properly.
Soft Tip Darts on a Bristle Board?
Soft tip darts can be used on a regular bristle dartboard and will not cause damage to the board however likely to bounce-out compared to steel tip darts. Soft tip darts are primarily designed for use on plastic electronic dartboards instead.
Soft Tip vs Steel Tip Darts
There are two types of darts: soft-tip and steel-tip. Soft tip darts are made from moulded plastic and are slightly flexible and lightweight. Steel tip darts are sharper and heavier. The barrels designed for steel tip darts are also heavier compared to those designed for soft tip darts.
Images link to Amazon
There are two types of dart points because they are designed for use on different types of dartboard.
- Soft tip darts are designed for electronic boards
- Steel tip darts are designed for bristle boards
Electronic dartboards have lots of tiny holes in them where the dart point can stick in. Hence, the soft tips are slightly flexible (to reduce the risk of bounce-outs) and not overly sharp, otherwise they will penetrate the plastic rather than the holes and cause damage.
Bristle dartboards are made from sisal fires which are densely packed and compressed together. This allows the steel tip dart to stick (and stay) in the board as it has a sharper point. The sharp point does not cause damage because the bristle fibres are “self-healing” and the hole created by the dart closes up when it is removed.
Will Soft Tip Darts Work on a Normal Bristle Dartboard?
So this leads us onto the big question, is it a good or bad idea to use soft tip darts on a regular bristle (sisal) dartboard? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Why Would You Want to Use Soft Tip Darts on a Bristle Board?
There are three main reasons why you may want to use soft tip darts on a bristle dartboard:
- Causes less damage to the dartboard
- Causes less damage to the surroundings
- For practicing
The first two reasons are very related. Since soft tip darts are both lighter and more blunt compared to steel tip darts, they are less likely to damage both the board and the surrounding area such as the wall.
Many players like to use soft tip darts on their own boards because it helps to prologue the life of the sisal fibres and the metal spider which can get damaged over time by steel tip darts.
Some players also actually prefer to use soft tip darts on their bristle boards every now and again because it helps them to practice and diagnose issues with their technique.
Soft tip darts need to be thrown at a flatter angle for them to stick in the board, whereas steel tip darts are more forgiving and can stick in the board when pointed up or down slightly. Hence, some players like to use soft tip darts to practice throwing at a flatter angle.
However, there is a bit of a debate here as some players will argue that you need to practice with the same darts to improve your technique, and that it’ll be hard to adjust between the soft and steel tips.
Issues With Using Soft Tip Darts on a Bristle Board
There are two main problems with using soft tip darts on a bristle board:
- Soft tip darts are more likely to bounce-out
- The points can get damaged
Soft tip darts not only have a blunter point compared to steel tip darts, but the barrels are also lighter. This means that they do not penetrate a bristle board as effectively as steel tip darts and are more likely to fall/ bounce out.
Not only can this be frustrating (as it means the score won’t count), but it can actually damage the floor if you don’t have a mat, and the darts themselves if they are constantly falling out.
To compensate, you’ll need to throw the dart harder so it is more likely to stick in the board. This means you’ll be adjusting your technique which can lead to inconsistencies in your throw when switching between soft and steel tip darts.
Additionally, the metal spider can damage the soft tips over time. Electronic dartboards have plastic spiders to avoid this issue.
Wondering if you can use steel tip darts on an electronic dartboard? Check out this article to learn more.
Use Conversion Points
Okay so what if you decide that you don’t want to use your soft tip darts on a bristle board because you’re tired of bounce-outs? Do you need to go a buy a set of steel tip darts?
Luckily the answer is no. Instead, you can use conversion points. These will allow you to use the barrel, shaft and flight on your soft tip dart, and just swap the point over to a steel tip.
Check out this very reasonably priced soft to steel dart conversion points on Amazon.
Conversion Points (image links to Amazon)
The only slight issue here is that the barrels found on soft tip darts are lighter compared to the barrels on steel tip darts. Steel tip darts usually weigh between 20-30g whereas soft tip darts typically weigh between 16-22g.
Hence, if you convert your soft tip darts with metal points, the dart may still feel a bit light, even though the steel tips will add 1-2g . This will affect how you throw the darts if you’re using to playing with heavier steel tip darts.
If you want to learn more about dart weight and why it matters so much, check out this article.