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Greater Tri-Cities Dart Club hosting state tournament this weekend in Kingsport

Amanda Marsh • Apr 5, 2013 at 2:23 AM

Those who become serious about darts tend to travel outside the Tri-Cities a few times a year to participate in tournaments. Luckily, they won’t have to go too far this weekend when the Greater Tri-Cities Dart Club hosts the Tennessee Darting Organization State Tournament, April 5-7, at the Americourt Hotel in Kingsport.

Spectators are welcome at the event and those interested can get a first-hand look at what local leagues have to offer.

Dart players in the Tri-Cities are always recruiting for their leagues. Speed and strength are not required skills but, just like any other sport, competitiveness is.

"No matter what your athletic ability, you can play," said Foy Harris, president of the Greater Tri-Cities Darting Association and the Tennessee Darting Association. "Men and women can compete against each other on an even playing field."

Being in tip-top physical shape isn’t necessary, nor is knowledge of the game. Longtime players like Harris enjoying teaching the ins and outs of darts. He even instructs a course on darts for college credit at Virginia Highlands Community College.

Harris worked with Greg Fields when he was "green" to the world of darts. With practice, lots of practice, Fields’ confidence and talent grew. Then, he and fellow thrower Steve Moore became co-founders of a second local dart league in 2007 - The Greater Tri-Cities Dart Club.

Also known as "The Money League," the group focuses on singles play in four-month seasons. Originally, the league was meant for more competitive players, but has since revamped its structure to include all levels of players who are grouped together according to ability in the bronze, silver or gold categories.

The Greater Tri-Cities Dart Club is relatively new in terms of the longevity of the Greater Tri-Cities Darting Association, which has been around 26 years. The GTCDA has about 200 members and many of them come from outside the direct Tri-Cities area to include places like Hampton and Abingdon. The biggest difference between it and "The Money League" is its offering of team play rather than singles.

About 14 venues around the Tri-Cities host both darting clubs. League organizers like Harris, Fields and Moore try to fill all the boards and keep players close to home to reduce travel costs. Many throwers participate in both leagues and say there are benefits to each.

"Ninety percent of our people are playing in both," said Fields, a 12-year dart veteran.

"When you’re playing with a team, it’s more social, so there’s more interaction with others throwers," said Moore, who started throwing darts as a post-college hobby. "On singles nights, there is less down time and there’s more pressure because it’s just you."

Whether it’s team or solo play, an evening of league darts takes about two and a half hours to complete.

"You can put as much time into as you want," said Harris. "You can make this your one night out a week, or you can play several nights a week. It’s whatever you want to do."

Besides being able to pick and choose when and where throwers participate, buying the equipment needed to play – a set of darts – won’t break the bank. Fields says a good set will cost between $30 and $70 depending on preference.

"It takes trying it one time to get hooked on it," Harris said.

For more information about the Tri-Cities dart leagues, visit the GTCDA website at www.gtcda-darts.com or the GTCDC website at www.gtcdc.teamopolis.com. There’s also a "Tennessee Darters Info Page" on Facebook.

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