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Why are Dartboard Numbers In That Order?

Dartboards include 20 numbered scoring zones. The numbers range from 1 to 20 but do not appear in order.

So, why are dartboard numbers placed out of order? 

The numbers are in this order to make it more difficult and limit the chance of luck. Here’s a closer look at dartboard numbers and their arrangement.

Why Are the Numbers on a Dartboard in That Order?

Dartboard numbers are in a specific order to make the game more challenging. If the numbers were in sequential order, players could achieve high scores by aiming at one side of the board.

For example, with numbers in sequential order, you may aim for the 19 and hit the 18 or 20. With the standard dartboard numbering, the 19 is adjacent to the 3 and the 7.

Higher scoring numbers are next to lower numbers to make the board more balanced. The layout punishes inaccurate shots, requiring players to be accurate to achieve a high score.

When Was the Modern Dartboard Invented?

Historians often credit Brian Gamlin with inventing darts in 1896. However, the game of darts likely originated in medieval England, where archers would take turns shooting at a target on a tree trunk.

The game of darts may also have evolved from games in the late 1800s. An 1819 journal discussed a game called “Puff and Dart” that involved firing a dart from a blowpipe. However, the target resembled a standard archery target with no numbering system.

Many parlor games were based on “Puff and Dart,” including a game called “Dart and Target.” Dart and Target involved throwing darts at a target, much like the modern game of darts.

The numbered scoring system found on dartboards may have originated from fairs held in France in the 1800s. Players would win a prize by throwing a dart at a number on a round board.

By the late 1800s, dart-like games were common in pubs throughout England and Ireland. Multiple variations of the dartboard were developed, including several versions with numbered sections.

Early versions include the London Five’s Board, the Grimsby Dartboard, and the Yorkshire Dartboard. Yet, the modern standard dartboard features a numbering system developed by either Brian Gamlin or Thomas William Buckle. 

Over the years, mathematicians have tried different numbering sequences to make the dartboard even more balanced. Several mathematicians have proposed new sequences, but the traditional layout remains the standard.

Who Is Brian Gamlin?

Brian Gamlin was a carpenter from Lancashire and is credited with inventing the modern numbering system for the dartboard. In 1896, at the age of 44, Brian Gamlin supposedly introduced his new dartboard. 

However, he died in 1903, 13 years before the first printed record of the numbering sequence.

In 1989, the Daily Mirror asked readers who invented the modern numbering sequence on dartboards. A reader from Germany replied with a message explaining how Brian Gamlin designed the sequence. 

No other sources back up the claim printed in the Daily Mirror, which has led historians to doubt the story’s truth.

Who Is Thomas William Buckle?

Thomas William Buckle was a wire-maker from Dewsbury, Yorkshire, which is also the birthplace of the Yorkshire Board. In 1992, the son of Thomas William Buckle claimed that his father invented the modern dartboard in 1913.

Thomas Buckle supposedly converted the London Fives Board into an early version of the Yorkshire Board. Three years later, in 1916, the modern number sequence appeared in print for the first time.

The Yorkshire Board closely resembles the modern standard dartboard. It consists of a circular board divided into 20 segments extending from a bullseye. The colors of each segment alternated between black and white.

The board also included a double ring along the outer edge with alternating green and red spaces. However, it did not have a triple scoring zone. 


The modern standard dartboard includes 20 segments placed in a specific order. The order of the numbers helps eliminate luck from the game, as high numbers are next to low numbers. If you aim for the 20 and miss, you will likely hit the 1 or the 5. 

The use of a numbering system for darts likely originated in the late 1800s. The sequence of numbers was probably invented by a wire-maker named Thomas William Buckle. However, many sources still credit Brian Gamlin as the inventor.

Michael Fielding

Michael Fielding

Michael has been playing Darts for more than 20 years and is passionate about helping others improve their game through his own experiences.