The Bristle Dart Board is the choice of champions, the big money darts players that we all look up to and try to emulate. In the big darts tournaments the board is always a bristle board usually a Nodor or Winmau, and it has come a long way since its inception in the 1930’s.
The “bristles” are actually pieces of rope tied together to make a small bundle. Lots of bundles are then put on a wooden base and compressed together using a steel ring. The face of the board is then sanded down and the dyes added to give the segments their different colours and then the “spider” or steel segment dividers are added. The number ring is put on the outside and hey presto; you have a bristle dart board.
The first one was made by Nodor, which is a bit odd as they were a company that made modelling clay and their boast was that the clay had no odour, hence the name Nodor. They then had an idea to make a dart board out of modelling clay, which frankly did not do very well as it was a bit messy, but they sold a few. This was a big step forward as the boards up to then had been simple wooden elm log ends.
Then some bright spark had the idea of making a dart board from rope and went to Nodor with the idea! This unlikely idea turned out to be genius and Nodor patented the first Bristle Dart Board in the early thirties. The patent gave them exclusive rights to make this revolutionary dartboard for 20 years or so and then everyone else jumped on board to make these classic dartboards.
Now Nodor had competition most noticeably from WinMau. Now the race was on to produce better and better versions of the original Bristle dart board; staple free bulls eyes and thinner wire shaped in a diamond shape to reduce the dreaded bounce outs appeared. They also reduced the gauge of the wire used in making the spider, so much so that the present boards have 20% or more extra space for the darts to hit.
Nowadays the boards used in all the big tournaments are virtually staple free and have the shaped thin wire for the spider. Winmau has its Blade III board and Nodor its Supawires board and now there are a whole host of other makes as well which all have increased scoring areas like the DMI Bandit that is totally staple free. All have staple free bulls eyes and ultra thin wire to increase the scoring area of the segments. The Bristle dart board is at the peak of its development, giving rise to increased scores compared to the past due to those ultra thin wires and increased scoring areas.
As for the future of the Bristle dart board, I think it is still bright, as nothing quite matches the look, sound and feel of a classic bristle board not withstanding the incredible developments of the electronic dart board.