Chance to learn dart basics

IT BEGINS with a bull shoot- out, can be played in singles, doubles or teams, and features a two-day pentathlon.

Darts may not be Australia's best-known sport but staging the national 25-and-under championships provides Tasmanians with an opportunity to learn the basics this week.

Launceston's St Ailbe's Hall is playing host to the third such tournament, which seeks to fill the void between the national junior (under-18s) and senior competitions and involves six states fielding men's and women's teams.

Darts Australia's competition organiser Mark Heinze said the sport had battled to retain its identity in recent years.

"The game is still very big in Australia but we lost a lot of players when the pokie machines came into pubs and clubs," he said.

"They filled the places where there used to be dart boards. You used to see boards in every pub, but you just don't see that any more.

"What we have here is our development squad. Once they leave the juniors, this is where they progress before taking the step up to seniors. We don't want to lose them to the game because these will be in the Australian senior teams of the future."

Having also hosted this year's junior championships in January, Tasmania is relishing its time in the national spotlight and fields a squad that includes Bagdad's Jamie Hales, fresh from contesting this year's senior titles in Darwin.

Darts Tasmania secretary Annette Riley said: "This is the first time we've hosted this event and it's a great incentive for us.

"Normally we'd only send one team away but as we're hosting we've got two, and from their point of view it's really great that we've got the event."

Queensland swiftly established a dominance in the women's doubles competition with Brooke Reynolds and Bree Anderson squaring up against state teammates Pare-one Matson and Nina Lacey in one semi- final, while Tasmania's Lauren Seabourne and Rebecca Smith took on Western Australia's Tamara Brown and Leeanne Watkins in the other.

The quarter-finals of the men's doubles involved three teams from Victoria, two each from Western Australia and Queensland and one from New South Wales.

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