Gone are the days of only playing darts on a night out at a pub, darts are back in a big way and are quickly becoming a family favorite.
“I found that people look to darts as an inexpensive way to have family entertainment for an evening,” said Britcan Dart Supply owner, community dart league team captain and avid dart player of 28 years Pat McAlinden.
“It’s a very inexpensive way to have a very entertaining game in your house once you set it up,” he said.
“It’s growing again because of the comradery that you develop for the people you play with. You can play at home with your family, it’s a game that anyone can play, and you don’t have to be great at it to have fun,” McAlinden added, “People are recognizing that it’s fun to play.”
Playing in dart Leagues was popular in the 1980’s but began to dwindle in the early 1990’s. McAlinden added, the leagues are starting to build back up again.
McAlinden said the reason why the popularity of darts decreased in the 1990’s was a matter of circumstances.
“For some people it was the time, the travel, or the expense. It was a sign of the times, tough times in Alberta, the jobs dried up, people left, and they didn’t come back,” he said.
McAlinden added, “We were young, people had families, so they stopped coming out. Then all of a sudden, they all came back 18 years later.
“We all became a large family. I have a family of 500 people who play darts and that’s before I owned the store.”
However, McAlinden has not always had such a strong devotion for the sport like he does today.
Growing up McAlinden played hockey and baseball and continued to play in his adult years until he no longer could due to a back condition.
“I had to give up competitive sport, that I loved, because I couldn’t take the pain of a sudden injury anymore,” he said.
McAlinden was unsure of what to do, and missed competing, so he called his younger brother who was a psyched major and asked for advice on what he should do to fill the void. His brother said he should start playing darts.
“I scoffed at that idea,” he said.
After considering playing darts McAlinden went out with his brother and a group of friends who taught him everything he needed to know about the game.
“I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s a great game, it’s mostly for fun, it’s very competitive, it involves math, these are things I’m good at,” McAlinden said.
He added, “I’m not the greatest player in Calgary, I’m not the greatest player in Alberta but I have played against the greatest players in the world and I’ve given them a good game.”
Since McAlinden has been an active dart player for over two decades making the decision to own and operate Britcan Darts Supplies without any previous retail experience was an easy choice for him over two years ago.
“I was laid off from the oil patch after 30 years working, I was out of work for 18 months and they were still laying people off like crazy,” McAlinden said.
“I was shopping here anyway; my friends were going to retire and close the store. I thought ‘Oh no, where are we going to get our dart stuff from?’ then the lightbulb came on. Hey, I know something about darts, I can do this.
“At the same time, I was starting to look at businesses I could run myself. It was a match made in heaven. “I came in and we had a meeting and we were all said and done in about 20 minutes,” he said.
Although owning the Brtican Darts Supplies store was not part of a lifetime goal McAlinden had, he strongly believed that events happen in life due to karma, and the right timing is everything.
“It was just at the right time I thought I should be buying a business. I was looking for something I could run myself instead of getting an entry level job,” McAlinden said.
“It’s been a struggle because I don’t have any previous retail experience. I learned everything on the fly. We made mistakes, but we learnt from those mistakes,” he added.
When McAlinden first began playing darts his goal was to be the best dart player in the world. He added, “Life caught up to me, my goal now is to have fun and to have a team of people who I enjoy spending the evening with and get out and have a good social night out.”
McAlinden added there are four community dart leagues in Calgary who are welcoming to beginners, experienced players, and middle of the road players.
“A lot of people are scared, because they either don’t know the math, or they don’t have good scores, but everyone is going to help you.
“It’s about developing our beginning players, giving them confidence to get better at the game, share in some wins and develop some friends to get to the point where they want to play on a team,” he said.
McAlinden added, there are two youth groups in Calgary, ages eight to 18, who are taught by certified darts Alberta coaches.
“It’s really grown, they are the future of our game, and some of them are so good, they’re all having a good time.”
For additional information on community leagues, and where to drop in to play games contact Brtican Darts Supplies.