Lawn darts, or jars, are weighted metal spikes thrown underhand toward a plastic target ring for scoring points. After causing severe injuries and even death, these toys were banned from sale in the United States.
Thankfully, safer alternatives exist. Choose a set with round, soft tips that won’t cause injury and rings that glow in the dark for late-evening play.
1. They’re Vintage
Most of them celebrate outdoor games from previous generations whose charms still hold today. While many old toys have earned a reputation for danger, plenty of classic lawn games can still thrill and delight. For example, a set of vintage lawn darts is a great way to transport yourself back to the era of backyard barbecues and casual family gatherings.
Known initially as Jarts, the popular game of lawn darts was an American phenomenon that blended wholesome group or family fun with a sense of friendly competition and outdoor play. Players would lay down plastic rings to serve as targets and then fling foot-long metal darts into the air, trying to arc them into the target. Unlike modern darts with pointed tips, the original lawn darts were slightly rounded and weighted for speed and accuracy.
The craze peaked in the ’70s and ’80s, with few suburban garages without a set of Jarts on the corner. But in December 1988, a tragic accident changed the game forever. After three children died from lawn dart injuries, the Consumer Product Safety Commission urged consumers to discard or destroy their sets. It banned them from sale until a safer version could be developed. Despite the ban, many subcultures still celebrate this once-beloved pastime, scavenging used locations from sheds and flea markets or purchasing them online.
2. They’re Easy to Assemble
The old-fashioned lawn darts of the past — also known as Jarts — are a fun and safe outdoor game. It’s a unique game in which players take turns tossing two colorful darts toward a glow-in-the-dark target ring, similar to horseshoes or classic ring toss games. It is a great way to get the family together and enjoy outdoor fun.
The game is a hit with kids and adults alike and can be played on various soft surfaces, including grass, beaches, and lawns. Some models have rings and darts that glow in the dark, allowing you to play at night or on rainy days.
Vintage lawn darts for sale are a great addition to any home or party, transporting you to the simpler days of backyard barbecues and family picnics. Their nostalgic aesthetics can bridge generations and create conversations about the past, making them a treasured personal history. If well-preserved, these vintage darts can even be appreciated as time passes.
Unlike the pointed steel darts banned after thousands of serious injuries (and at least one death), the new versions use soft plastic tips and are much safer to handle. However, they must still be appropriately stored and kept away from children and pets. Fortunately, many manufacturers offer lawn darts with easy-to-assemble features that allow immediate play. Look for sets that come with user manuals to help you get started.
3. They’re Safe
Lawn darts are pointy and heavy (or sometimes both). As a result, they can easily cause serious injury to the person or pet they hit. However, they can also be fun for kids, teens, and adults. The trick to playing safely is setting up a safe throwing area and supervising children closely. Following the game’s rules and keeping small parts out of reach is also essential.
The story of the original lawn darts began in the mid-1960s when sets started appearing in sporting goods and toy stores under various brand names. These darts were about 12 inches long and had a metal tip on one end and decorative plastic fins on the other, and they were weighted to help them fly straight.
In the early 1980s, a seven-year-old girl named Michelle Snow was struck in the head by a metal-tipped lawn dart while playing with her family in their backyard. As a result, her life was tragically cut short. Her father, David, then began lobbying to ban toys in the United States.
Although traditional lawn darts were eventually banned in the United States after an incident that left a young girl in a coma, there are still some sets of lawn darts available that have been modified for safety. So, some offer a collection of plastic lawn darts that look just like traditional metal ones. Still, they are blunt on one end to prevent skull damage and a little heavier on the other end to improve their accuracy.
4. They’re Affordable
Lawn darts, also known as jars or javelin darts, are lawn games in which weighted metal spikes are thrown toward circular targets on the ground. The first player or team to hit the targets with their darts wins the game. The darts have metal tips, which can pierce the skin, but they are designed with soft plastics to prevent injuries and allow for a safe landing. The game is easy to set up and play, making it an ideal outdoor match for families or friends.
When looking for a new lawn dart set, look for one with all the pieces needed to play. A full pack usually consists of four darts and a target mat. A quality target mat will have a standard data board design that can be used to keep track of points. In addition, some sets come with brightly colored markers or flags for quick point tracking.
The best lawn darts suit soft surfaces, including grass, sand, and beaches. This makes them ideal for family trips and vacations. The darts can be easily stored in a drawstring bag, which makes them convenient to transport and use. They also glow in the dark, allowing for late evening play when the sun has set. These benefits make the FarShot lawn darts an excellent choice for any family looking to spend sunny days playing together.