I found a set of Marksman wooden darts for sale on the internet, so I had to pick them up. They were being packaged as a set of three darts, enclosed in a combination of plastic and cardboard suitable for hanging on a retail shelf.
I ended up buying three of these “sets” and broke one open so I could examine the darts a bit more closely. The packaging states that the darts themselves are made in France.
Oddly, I recently sent a set of Widdys to a fellow in England who told me he had become accustomed to using wooden darts that were made in France, but were no longer available to him. So, there may be some set of French dart makers who were producing wood/feather darts until quite recently.
The rest of the markings on the packing include a mention of “Marksman Products” Los Angeles 25, California. Also, that the darts 6 inches long and are given what appears to be an item number of “No. DOW6”.
There were no markings on the back of the packaging, and I couldn’t find any dates anywhere.
Here is a picture of one of the darts . . .
You can see that there are a couple of things that are different about this dart when compared to the darts we are used to seeing today. The feathers use the “old fashioned” natural color scheme. And, the colors on the feather are not uniform, so it doesn’t seem as likely that the “natural” colors here are simply a shade of grey paint tossed onto the feather to mimic what a feather from a wild bird would look like.
The barrel is wider than that of a Widdy (which is wider than darts made by Apex) so the dart feels different in your hand. The barrel also tapers of more towards the back of the dart, so the roundness of the barrel is pronounced.
The feathers are as long on the Marksman dart as they are on a Widdy, coming in at 2 inches. They do, however, have a different shape. The Marksman darts have an even more rounded feather flight than the Widdy darts.
The other obvious difference is that the point and the lead weight used for balance are not part of the same unit on a Marksman. Instead, the lead weight forms a band around the middle of the dart. it lies roughtly where you would place your thumb if you were holding the dart, preparing to throw it at a board.
The band has grooves in it that run at a slight angle, all around the band. This gives you a bit of a grip on the dart.
That leaves the point, which looks a bit like a thick needle placed in the cone of the dart. It looks odd, to me, that the point is placed right into the wood barrel of the dart instead of being coupled with the weight placed on the nose of the dart.
The last thing to mention about the darts is what looks like an ink stamping of the word France on the barrel.
I had never heard of the Marksman company as far as darts are concerned. There is a Marksman that is involved with air rifle, sling shots, etc. Whether or not they made wooden darts (or more appropriately had darts made for them for resale by someone in France), I may never know.
The fact that the darts are fit for American boards, but seem to have an American base in Los Angeles leads me to believe that they weren’t originally intended for American dartboards – since the American darting scene in L.A. is either oddly quiet, or non-existant.
Still, it was interesting, rare find.