When Were Lawn Darts Banned

 Remember those fun-filled days of backyard games and carefree laughter? Among them, lawn darts, or “jarts,” brought excitement and friendly competition. Lawn darts, a once popular backyard game in the 1970s and 1980s. But lurking behind the fun was a troubling reality – a rise in lawn dart injuries that ignited public safety concerns.

Once sold in toy stores and at garage sales across the US, tragic accidents involving these metal-tipped projectiles prompted a crucial decision. In December 1986, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) faced mounting pressure to reevaluate their safety. 

Advocacy groups and concerned parents rallied for change, leading to the ban on lawn darts and the end of an era in backyard entertainment. Uncover the story behind the ban and its lasting impact in this revealing article. 

In this guide, we will deep dive into when were lawn darts banned and explore alternative and safer versions of traditional lawn darts, played on lawns instead of dartboards.  So let’s dive.

What is Lawn Darts?

Lawn darts, also known as  Jarts, were a popular outdoor game The game involved throwing large metal-tipped darts at a target on the ground, similar to horseshoes or cornhole. However, lawn darts also posed a serious risk of injury or death to anyone who got hit by them. Lawn darts were responsible for at least three children’s deaths and thousands of hospital visits in the US alone. This led to a ban on the sale of lawn darts in the US and Canada in 1988. Here is a brief history of how lawn darts became banned and what alternatives are available today.

Types of Lawn Darts

Lawn darts, also known as “jarts,” were once a popular backyard game enjoyed by many. However, due to safety concerns, the original metal-tipped lawn darts were banned in the United States in 1988. Since then, various alternative versions have been developed to offer a safer playing experience. Here are some of the types of lawn darts that have emerged:

  1. Soft Tip Lawn Darts: These lawn darts feature soft, rounded tips made from materials like rubber or plastic. The soft tips are designed to minimize the risk of injury if players are accidentally hit.
  2. Magnetic Lawn Darts: Magnetic lawn darts utilize magnets instead of sharp metal tips. The magnetic attraction allows the darts to stick to the dartboard or a designated target area, providing a safer way to play.
  3. Aerodynamic Foam Lawn Darts: Foam lawn darts are engineered for better aerodynamics, ensuring stable and accurate flights. The darts have foam bodies and soft tips, reducing the potential for harm while maintaining the fun factor.
  4. Ring Toss Lawn Darts: In this variation, players aim to toss the lawn darts through a suspended ring instead of trying to hit a target on the ground. This adds an element of challenge and skill to the game.
  5. LED Light-Up Lawn Darts: For evening or nighttime play, LED light-up lawn darts feature built-in lights that illuminate the darts, making them visible in the dark.
  6. Balloon Lawn Darts: A kid-friendly version, balloon lawn darts use darts with suction cups on the tips. Instead of aiming at a traditional target, players try to hit and pop balloons for a fun and safe experience.

The Origins of Lawn Darts

Lawn darts, also known as “jarts,” may seem like a modern backyard game, but their roots trace back to ancient times in Greece and Rome. Originally called plumbata, these weighted spikes were weapons of war hurled at enemy soldiers from a distance.

Fast forward to the 1950s, and toy manufacturers decided to transform this concept into a family-friendly lawn game. Consisting of large darts with metal or plastic tips and plastic fins on one end, players aimed to toss them underhand toward targets placed about 35 feet apart. Despite their popularity, lawn darts were eventually banned in the United States and Canada due to serious injuries, prompting a shift towards safer versions of the game.

The Dangers of Lawn Darts

Lawn darts may have seemed like innocent fun, but they turned out to be incredibly dangerous. With metal-tipped darts soaring up to 50 feet at speeds up to 90 miles per hour, serious injuries and even fatalities were all too common.

The tragic case of Michelle Snow, a seven-year-old girl fatally struck by a lawn dart in 1987, brought the dangers to the forefront, prompting a call for action.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported over 6,100 emergency room visits between 1978 and 1986, with a majority of victims under 15 years old. This outcry led to a ban on the sale of lawn darts, paving the way for safer versions of the game.

The Ban on Lawn Darts

Despite previous efforts by the CPSC to ban the sale of lawn darts in toy stores and departments, the danger persisted as they were still available in sporting goods stores for adult use. Even with warning labels cautioning against child usage, tragic incidents like the death of seven-year-old Michelle Snow continued to occur.

Following the devastating event and David Snow’s campaign, the CPSC implemented a comprehensive ban on all types of lawn dart sets, urging consumers to discard or destroy their existing sets. Canada also followed suit, enacting a ban that included fines and imprisonment for violators.

The ban aimed to eliminate the estimated 2.5 million sets of lawn darts in US households, finally ending the risks associated with this once-popular game.

The Alternatives to Lawn Darts

Lawn darts may be gone, but many other outdoor games can provide fun and excitement without the risk of serious injury or death. Some of the alternatives to lawn darts include:

  • Ring toss: A game where players throw rings at a peg or a bottle on the ground. The rings are usually made of plastic, rubber, or rope and are much lighter and softer than lawn darts.
  • Horseshoes: A game where players toss metal or plastic horseshoes at a metal stake in the ground. The horseshoes are heavier than lawn darts, but they have a curved shape that makes them less likely to fly off course or hit someone in the head.
  • Kubb: A game where players throw wooden batons at wooden blocks on the ground. The batons and blocks are relatively small and light, and the game requires skill and strategy rather than brute force.
  • Yard pong: A game where players throw ping pong balls into plastic cups arranged in a triangle on the ground. The cups are filled with water or beer, depending on the preference of the players. The game is similar to beer pong, but on a larger scale and without a table.
  • Kan Jam: A game where players throw flying discs at plastic cans with slots on the sides. The cans are placed about 50 feet apart, and the goal is to hit the can, get the disc inside the slot, or have a teammate deflect the disc into the can.
  • Bocce: A game where players roll or toss balls at a smaller ball called a pallino on the ground. The balls are usually made of wood, metal, or plastic and are about the size of a tennis ball. The game requires precision and accuracy rather than power.
  • Bottle bash: Bottle Bash is an exciting outdoor disc toss game that offers endless family fun. With easy setup and portable design, it’s perfect for backyard, beach, camping, or tailgating. Teams of 2 players aim to knock off the opponent’s bottle using a frisbee, earning points along the way. The set includes telescoping aluminum poles, durable plastic bottles, a soft feel frisbee, and a convenient carry bag. Choose from various accessories like LED kits and multi-surface bases to elevate your Bottle Bash experience. Get ready for hours of active play and friendly competition with this thrilling game set!


So in the end, we hope you now a good understanding of when were lawn darts banned.

Lawn darts were a popular outdoor game in the 1970s and 1980s, but they were also very dangerous and caused many injuries and deaths. They were banned in the US and Canada in 1988 and 1989, respectively, and consumers were advised to get rid of them. However, there are still many other outdoor games that can offer fun and entertainment without the risk of harm. Some of these games include ring toss, horseshoes, Kubb, yard pong, Kan Jam, and bocce.


If you’ve still got questions about when were lawn darts banned, then these may help:

Are lawn darts still banned?

Yes, lawn darts are banned in the US and Canada. They cannot be sold, manufactured, imported, advertised, or given away. Anyone who owns lawn darts should discard or destroy them.

Why did lawn darts get banned?

Lawn darts are banned because they are very dangerous and can cause serious or fatal injuries to anyone who gets hit by them. They have metal or plastic tips that can pierce through skin, bone, and skull.

What year did lawn darts get banned?

Lawn darts were banned in the US in 1988 and in Canada in 1989.

What are some alternatives to lawn darts?

Some alternatives to lawn darts include ring toss, horseshoes, Kubb, yard pong, Kan Jam, and bocce.

Are vintage lawn darts illegal?

Yes, vintage lawn darts are illegal in the United States. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned the sale and possession of lawn darts in 1988 after three children were killed and thousands of others were injured. The ban applies to all lawn darts, regardless of when they were manufactured.

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