Bullshooter dart boards are the magic ingredient behind our huge success.
These coin-op dart boards are internet connected with dual video cameras and automatic scoring. Player stats are automatically tracked and tabulated. This enables us to evaluate every players skill level and provide balanced competition.
Balance competition is the foundation of what we do. No longer do you have to be the best player in the room to win at tournaments. You just have to be the best in your class 🙂
Founded in 2015 by Rick Smith and Catherine Haycock, Maximum Darts is the largest Bullshooter dartboard operator in Canada and the operator of the Canadian National Dart League.
Our partnerships with the other Canadian Bullshooter owners has allowed us to network the entire country into one massive network of players and boards.
The power of networking and automatic scoring enabled us to create something really special.
We took our combined 50 years of experience of organizing traditional steel tip leagues and tournaments and created the Canadian National Dart League in 2019. Our inaugural year paid out a whopping $101,000 in prize money.
Covid restrictions and lockdowns have slowed down our progress, but everything is still on track and simmering in the background.
It has given us the opportunity to refine our systems and create Fight Club, which is going to be the next killer app in darts.
Looking forward to seeing everyone back on the boards and having the most fun they’ve ever had playing darts 🙂
<insert Rick and Catherine bios and photo>
Who doesn’t love a great origin story?
Maximum Darts was born as a new type of steel tip league in Brampton, Ontario back in 2012.
The goal of Maximum Darts was to offer great competition based on a players skill level and equal payouts across the divisions. Too many times we would see new players get discouraged when they had to face an experienced players and knocked out the first round of a tournament.
The thrill of winning a tournament is just not available to a new player and we were sick and tired of seeing tournament participation declining and long-running events shutting down and closing their doors forever.
In Maximum Darts, I collected the stats and organized the end of season playoffs ranked by skill levels / divisions where each player had an equal chance to be the champion in their class.
We were always on the cutting edge of technology and used tablets/laptops for scoring and stats. (this was way before Darts Connect and all the other tablet scoring apps).
Maximum Darts was growing and franchises started in other cities. I started creating a tablet scoring app to link all the players together. It was on it’s way to being something huge in darts.
This is where things take a sharp left turn:
In 2015, I acquired the rights to the USA-based darts magazine, Bulls Eye News and took over the publication of the magazine.
I was really curious about this soft-tip thing and began traveling to the USA to see it for myself.
At first, I just couldn’t wrap my head around why people would put coins in a dartboard and want to throw flimsy plastic darts. I had heard all the myths that it counts darts even if they bounce out and won’t let you score if you get too far ahead. I saw videos where the machine flashes lights and plays sounds. It all seemed really silly to me.
Remember, I had been organizing traditional steel-tip leagues and events at the Local, Provincial, and National level for over 10 years at this point. I had performed the first ever livestream of the WDF World Cup event with teams from England, Scotland, etc. I was deeply entrenched in the steel-tip culture at every level.
I love being right and I could not have been more wrong about anything in my entire life.
Soft-tip darts is downright fun.
I love playing darts and what I expected to be a hokey bastardization of the game I love is actually a fun and different variation of darts. There is no question that it is still darts. Yes, it’s a little different and does take a bit of getting used to at first when you’ve been playing steel darts for over a decade.
Understanding the difference is like comparing 8-Ball and Snooker.
Snooker is a traditional British game. It’s very hard to master. The pockets are smaller, the playing surface larger and more challenging. Snooker requires precision and is very unforgiving in terms of millimeters. The rules are set in stone. It tends to attract serious players.
8-Ball on the other hand has larger pockets and a smaller playing surface. It is easier to make your shots and a very popular choice for beginners. There are many variations of games and attracts a wider variety of players.
That’s not to say that one game is better than the other. They are both fantastic games. They are both billiards. Both have world level competitions. They are the same and different. Some people prefer one or the other and some people play both.
Comparing steel-tip and soft-tip darts is similar. They are both fantastic games. They are both darts. Both have world level competitions. They are the same and different. Some people prefer one or the other and some people play both.
My first exposure to a soft-tip event was the Bullshooter World Challenge in Chicago. I had arranged to meet Sam Zammuto, the president of Arachnid 360 who invented and manufactures the soft-tip boards.
It is still a vivid memory for me.
I drove to the hotel looking for the venue. I spotted 20 people outside smoking and wearing dart shirts so I knew i was in the right place. (you know what I mean lol).
I remember walking into the hall and the first thing that hit me was the music pumping. Helium-filled balloons everywhere. There were vendors selling darts and supplies. A booth selling custom printed shirts on the spot. Even a booth with 4 spinning dartboards and mountains of plush animal toys. Was this a dart tournament or a carnival?!?
I walk past all this and in the middle of the massive hall were stadium bleachers surrounding the most impressive stage board I had ever seen. Huge flat screen TV’s. Rows and rows of Bullshooter dart boards as far as the eye could see. Lines of people queued up for the guy filling plastic cups from a beer keg. I kind of felt like Alice in Wonderland.
I walked up onto the raised organizer’s stage and met Sam for the first time. From up here I could see the entire hall and was completely blown away. Hundreds of boards filled with players. Music still pumping. Balloons and streamers everywhere. Mini-stages in every corner of the room.
I flat out asked Sam why wasn’t this in Canada. His response was, “It should be. I’d like to find someone in Canada to work with.” I put out my hand and while he was shaking it, I said, “You just found him.”
That was the beginning of the soft-tip revolution in Canada.
We started with 10 boards and 6 players who we still call our original six. (Debralee Roberts, Perry Decker, David Switzer, Khadar Ajodha, Adam Thomas, Paul Poirier). These were the first to join our leagues and take a chance on this new thing.
There were other pockets of independent operators in Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.