There Will Be Blood

How hard can it be?

How hard can it be?

A few months ago, I wrote an article in the May issue of Obscure Sports Magazine about unusual tailgate games and there was one I just HAD to try – Beer Darts. It seemed to be the perfect combination of danger and friendly, one-on-one competition, and you even get to sit down while playing! Or, perhaps it was this awesome instructional video.  So informative!  So entertaining.   Regardless of the reason, I made a vow to myself that I was going to play this game before summer’s end.

A July camping trip with 15 or so of my closest friends seemed like the perfect opportunity to test it out. An encouraging, informative email was sent to our camping compatriots letting them know that we were going to try out a new game, but not to worry, we had all the equipment.  While this is a group of folks that love to play games, the prospect of beer darts was met with a bit of trepidation. However, my fiancé, Kevin, was supportive of my beer dart dream and having viewed the video himself, was game. He even made a trip to Wal-Mart to pick up the needed beer dart materials; 2 rubber floor mats and a pack of steel-tip dart (we obviously own camping chairs).  After packing up the car for our trip, we realized that we had forgotten the cardboard used as shields, but since the video said it wasn’t mandatory….

Off we go!

The first to arrive at our campsite, Kevin and I quickly picked the best place to pitch our tent, dipped ourselves in DEET and we were ready for some beer dart action. As our friends trickled in, two by two, we figured this was the perfect time to begin our beer dart adventure.  So, we set up 2 camping chairs, roughly 10 feet apart, put a rubber floor mat in front of each one, grabbed 2 cans of the cheapest swill we had and one of the darts and were ready to pop our beer dart cherries.

The first few rounds were uneventful, with neither Kevin nor I hitting the can or even the floor mat. This is when we discovered the first drawback to beer darts – dirt. Because, you see, if you aren’t hitting the can or the floor mat, the dart lands in the dirt.  Thus we arrived at revelation #1- a cup of water ala beer pong to rinse the dirty dart. The dirt became a particular problem once Kevin made his first hit – completely puncturing the bottom of the can, forcing me to down the entire beer in one sitting.  Yes, on my first attempt at beer darts, I had to slam an entire can of beer (something I hadn’t done since college.) Dirt gritting in my teeth, I vowed revenge. After a few more rounds with snarky banter being tossed back and forth – SUCCESS!  I hit Kevin’s can, forcing him to down half of his beer. Never one to back down from a challenge, he quickly retaliated, hitting my can 2 times.  By now, I was getting a buzz.  I’m no lightweight either, I’m from Wisconsin! I can hold my own against the best of them! However, some of our more adventurous friends had arrived and were eager to play, so I gracefully bowed out, letting our friend Dan take a turn against the reigning camping champ.  Dan was a much more worthy opponent, making a much more action packed game. Which brings us to revelation #2- if you are good at darts, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ll be able to hold your own at beer darts.

Got it!

Got it!

While Dan and Kevin continued to battle for the beer dart crown, one of our more safety-conscious friends arrives, willing to play, but with a hefty cardboard box in tow. “Hey, aren’t you guys supposed to use cardboard as a shield or something?” he asked. We noted the thoughtfulness of this gesture and continued to play.  I played a round or two against Dan, even winning a game. I seemed to be improving and was eager to test out my skills against a new opponent or two, but alas, most of our friends were fearful of this new, exciting game and instead were content to entertain themselves with more sedate activities, such as beer pong and staring into the fire.  This largely limited our playing time, as beer darts with 3-4 people can quickly lead to out of control drunkenness.  So, we decided to take a break to eat, socialize and recruit.

After fortifying ourselves with grilled meats, we decided to resume game play, despite the threat of darkness.  Soon, we actually recruited two new players, Mike and Rachel. They insisted on playing against one another, as I decided to take photos and Dan and Kevin are known to cause shenanigans.  Their game began uneventfully, much like our earlier games; neither player hitting the can, the floor mat, etc… Then, DISASTER.

I turned my head away from the action for just a second, but quickly turned back once I heard a lone, quiet … oh. Shit. I look at Rachel’s stunned expression and scanned down. Oh. MY GOD. The steel-tipped dart was sunk all the way into her calf. Everyone sat in stunned silence, not knowing what to do.  Then someone (most likely Dan) says- “Take a picture!” Shaking off my initial shock at seeing a metal DART stuck in someone’s leg, I gather my sensibilities, pick up the camera and click. An unforgettable moment, captured forever.

Hey! Hey! There's something in my leg!

Hey! Hey! There’s something in my leg!

After a few more stunned seconds….minutes? Someone wiser than me advises Rachel to remove the dart from her calf. Luckily, an Eagle Scout was on hand, complete with a fully stocked First Aid kit.  Fortunately the blood wasn’t copious and Rachel was a trooper. Soon she was good as new and the only thing left to worry about was a possible infection and what her soon-to-arrive husband was going to do to Mike once he found out that he impaled his wife.

Mike meanwhile is sitting in his camp chair, frozen in horror.  You see, while everyone knew that somehow, some way, SOMEONE was going to get injured on this adventure, most likely from beer darts, no one thought the culprit would be the mostly sober, cardboard-bringing father of 3.  After ensuring that Rachel was 1. Okay and 2. Not going to kill him, Mike declared that he was NEVER going to play beer darts ever again and began taking a straw poll on whether the soon-to-arrive husband was going to kill or sue him.  (Since they are cousins, neither happened.)

Later on that evening, and the next day, despite all odds, a few of us did resume playing beer darts, but not until we created shields out of the aforementioned cardboard box and only in the daylight. While still enjoyable, this method of beer darts was a lot more unwieldy and a lot less dangerous.  Despite the tragic event that occurred, I’d still recommend giving beer darts a whirl.  It will definitely be something memorable to enhance your camping, tailgating or yard party experience.  Of course, I wasn’t maimed in any way. However, I’d strongly suggest acquiring some sort of shin guard or at the very least, use.the.freaking.cardboard.  And no matter what- Respect and fear the dart.

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