Is Lawn Darts Still Illegal?


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Key Takeaways

  1. Selling traditional lawn darts with metal points is illegal in many countries, including the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, and more.
  2. These traditional lawn dart sets were controversial due to the injuries and deaths they caused, including those of children.
  3. Modern lawn dart sets, made from rubber or plastic, are legal to sell and are much safer to play than traditional sets.   

With the traditional game of lawn darts being controversial, many people are confused about whether the game is even allowed at all. It’s true governments banned lawn darts in the 1970s and 1980s. So, is lawn darts still illegal to this day? 

Is Lawn Darts Still Illegal?

A game of lawn darts on the lawn.

Lawn darts’ legal status varies depending on where you live. The sale of traditional lawn darts made from metal is illegal in the United States and Canada. However, playing lawn darts is legal, and modern versions made from plastic or rubber are legal for sale.

Also, Australia, France, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland instituted their own bans.

Canada also instituted the Hazardous Product Act, which also made the sale of second-hand sets illegal

Historical Background Of Lawn Darts

You can trace the game of lawn darts back to ancient times. The game at that time would have been a rather rudimentary version and different from the modern purpose-made lawn dart sets we know today. However, it is from this basic throwing game that lawn darts came about as we know it today. 

Though the game existed in the 19th and 20th centuries, it didn’t really become as popular as other lawn games until much later. 

By the mid-20th century onward, it had become a popular game at outdoor parties and family gatherings. However, that popularity was short-lived, and the traditional lawn darts game only lasted a few decades. This was due to a ban following a number of accidents, resulting in severe injuries and deaths.

Following the ban, the game lost appeal for obvious reasons. However, its popularity is rising again thanks to newer, safer versions of lawn darts.

The Ban On Lawn Darts And Its Implications

When governments banned lawn darts, it marked a turning point for the game. The ban resulted from a culmination of incidents and concerns regarding the game’s safety.

Ultimately, a series of accidents, including the deaths of children caused by the metal-tipped darts, triggered the ban. The biggest instigator was the father of Michelle Snow. Michelle was a 7-year-old girl who lost her life when a lawn dart was thrown over the fence into the area where she was playing. Unfortunately, the thrown dart struck her in the head and killed her. 

Michelle’s father campaigned for the ban for 18 months following the death of his daughter, and the ban eventually went through. Shortly after the US banned the sale of the game, other countries followed suit, including Canada, which had seen injuries occur there too.

Implications Of Banning Lawn Darts

The most obvious implication of the ban on lawn darts was the stoppage of sales. However, fans of the game soon ensured these traditional lawn darts sets became collector’s items. Some people even tried to buy parts to make their own lawn darts. 

The ban also marked a loss in sales for manufacturers. As such, many looked into how to make safer versions of the game. Ultimately, this led to the creation of the rounded lawn dart games we know and love today. There have been many innovations, too, including glow-in-the-dark sets for after-dark fun.

The ban also made people more wary of playing lawn darts. While this wasn’t true for everyone, lawn darts’ history still plays a part in how people perceive it to this day.

Is Lawn Darts More Dangerous Than Other Garden Games?

The sharp point on traditional lawn darts meant they had a unique risk. This is especially true when you consider the potential high-velocity impacts.

Lawn darts were substantially more dangerous compared to other tossing games like frisbee, horseshoes, cornhole, or bocce ball. Though being hit by a frisbee, horseshoe, bean bag, or ball could cause an injury, this is likely to be minor compared to a sharp metal tip hitting you at speed.

In addition, many of these games feature different throwing trajectories than lawn darts, often being lower or on the ground. 

You could describe lawn darts as similar to archery in terms of the danger it presents. However, archery sets are not usually found in backyards–at least not the proper archery sets anyway.

Evolution Of The Game Of Lawn Darts Following The Ban

When governments banned traditional lawn darts, manufacturers swiftly acted and redesigned the game. The most significant change was the tips of the darts. Instead of a pointed metal tip, the new designs had soft, large, and rounded tips made from rubber or plastic. 

Modifying the darts meant a lower risk, and the game became much safer. These new versions didn’t hinder the concept of the game. Lawn darts essentially stayed the same as players still threw the darts toward targets. 

Some manufacturers have gone one step further to make the game even safer. There are now inflatable lawn darts playable indoors and out. There are also the aforementioned glow-in-the-dark sets, and it’s likely lawn dart innovations will continue in the future.

The Future Of Lawn Darts

Likely, lawn darts will still be a popular game in years to come. Now that manufacturers have addressed safety concerns with the traditional darts, there’s no reason why families can’t enjoy the game once again.

With technological advancements, there could be further modifications to the game. In fact, there’s even a version called Popdarts, which uses suction cups on either side of the darts. You can play this version of darts inside or outside, even on a table!

Whether or not we’ll see this beloved activity make it into more official sporting capacities, such as the Olympics, remains to be seen. But at least everyone has the chance to enjoy the activity safely once again.

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