Like most top level darts players across the country, Troy Hanlon developed his game in a local pub. Unlike most local darts players, Hanlon will get to play in a prestigious world tournament in England next winter.
Hanlon learned to play darts from his father as a 14-year-old and now, eight year's later, he's off to the British Darts Organization's World Masters Tournament in Bridlington, Yorkshire, England.
What's surprising about Hanlon's singles win in the Halifax Open last weekend is that it came in his first tournament outside the province, and he had been initially invited to the tournament as a doubles player.
And while Hanlon admits that a teenager, his dad, Bernard, known to be a very good player is his day, routinely defeated him in darts. But things have been evening things up lately.
The 22-year-old Hanlon, from St. Mary's Bay, honed his darts skills as a 19-year-old in Admiral's Beach, which was about the time he began taking the sport seriously. He said he knew he was pretty good "at 16 or 17" years of age.
Hanlon admits darts still has an image problem is most parts of this country.
Those not familiar with world-class darts assume all players are overweight and throw darts with one hand while holding a beer in the other.
Hanlon says it is an impression a lot of people have, but he says he doesn't drink when he plays darts and pointed out that, "when you are on TV during a tournament, you are not allowed to drink.
"A lot of people don't understand the game," said Hanlon. "They think it's just a night out of drinking. When I was in Halifax, I was never so tired in my life. It was 12 hours a day on my feet - well, really all your weight is one leg (as you deliver the dart).
"Then there's the concentration part and the mental part of the game for three straight days."
Hanlon admitted playing in the Halifax Open was, "a bit different than playing at home where I know everybody. I tried to convince myself that it was just another tournament, but when I actually got up on stage the nerves kicked in."
Although it is a fairly easy sport to pick up and play the recreational level, the game is difficult to master and it will take years of practice to get to a point where competitors are good enough to play professionally. These days, thousands of dollars are up for grabs in hundreds of tournaments around the world. For example, there will be nearly $200,000 on the line in the week-long World Masters event.
Hanlon, who intends to stay in the sport for the foreseeable future, practices two to three hours a day and plays two nights a week in a league.
He has changed his style of play "a couple of times" and admits that acquiring consistency in getting the right grip and the proper stance and delivery is a problem a lot of players have as they are developing.
"I've been working on all of that," he says, concerning his particular technique.
Hanlon would like to finish in the top eight this weekend in Gander so he can make the provincial team and then go on to the nationals in Montreal in June, which, he says, "would be good practise for me for tournament in England.
"There's good competition here (in Canada)," he said, "but it's a lot tougher in England."
Early forms of darts started in the 19th century but it didn't become a serious pub game until the 20th century. Historians suppose, because they don't know for certain, that those teaching archery shortened some arrows and had their students throw them at the bottom of an empty wine barrel.
The dart board may have its origins in the cross section of a tree.
The game is played by millions of people all over the world, but its greatest popularity is in the United Kingdom. Darts first appeared on British television in 1962 and it has become one of the UK's most popular and watched sports. The UK was the first country to officially recognize darts as a sport.
Darts legend Phil Taylor from Great Britain really hit the big time when he landed a cameo role in the nation's favourite soap - Coronation Street.
Many darts players use self hypnosis in playing the game.
A set of darts range in price form $15 to over $100.
Did you know: Darts must stay on the board for at least five seconds after a player's final throw to count. A throw does not score if it sticks into another dart or if it falls off the board.
What was the name of the song that Alan Warriner walked into the arena to during the 2004 World Grand Prix at Dublin?
Cold as ice. Also known as "The Iceman", this Lancastrian darts player is also a fully qualified psychiatric nurse.