What happened to Yard Darts & Lawn Darts?

Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Yard Darts were a big fad. These were foot-long darts made of steel, with large plastic vanes on the back. They were marketed under several names, including Yard Darts, Lawn Darts, Jarts, and Yarts.These giant versions of indoor darts were meant to be lobbed underhand, at a distance of 35 feet, towards a small target ring laying on the ground. Instead of throwing darts at a dartboard on a wall, this was more like playing horseshoes. except with giant darts.

Different brands, and users, often came up with differing distances and rules.

Unfortunately, people tended to get carried away with the fun of lobbing these large “lawn darts”, and lots of injuries started to happen. Some injuries were from people actually throwing a Yard Dart at someone else, but most were really accidents. Stupid accidents, but still accidental. Someone standing too near the target, or someone trying to catch one in mid-air.. there seemed to be no end to the dumb things people could do.

The toll of injuries continued to mount, and eventually there was a fatality in which a small child died after being stuck by a thrown Yard Dart.

At this time (2010), at least 4  children have died after being struck by these mini-javelins.

This really should not have been too surprising.  Similar short and heavy projectiles were commonly used as weapons in ancient times.

On December 19, 1988, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the sale of Yard Darts. Canada followed with a similar sales ban.

Until recently, used and imported Yard Dart sets could still be found at online auctions, but eBay and most other online sites now prohibit the sale of banned items on their sites.

In June, 2010, the game appeared again in Canadian news. Authorities there issued warnings that homeowners may be legally liable if they sell banned toys such as yard darts in garage sales.

History buffs may notice that Yard Darts were very similar to an ancient weapon of war, the Roman Plumbata.  These were giant weighted darts, carried in clips on the back of Roman shields, and thrown at enemies in battle.  Historical re-enactors sometimes make their own reproductions, but they cannot legally be sold in most countries because they are essentially the same as Yard Darts.