Of all the English speaking countries in the world, England most definitely takes the cake when it comes to weird phrases and strange terminology.
Just look at the way score is kept during a tennis match, or try to follow a game of cricket. And Darts, perhaps the most quintessential British pastime, is no slouch when it comes to strange and funny-sounding terminology.
For example, bed & breakfast, fish & chips, Annie’s attic. Each phrase has a story and a distinct origin.
But there is one word, essential to the game, whose true meaning and origins have eluded most throughout the years.
That’s right, it’s the Oche!
But what is an oche in darts?
The oche is the name given to the throwline in darts. It is the line at which a player must stand behind when throwing their darts at the dartboard.
But it is much more than just a line on the ground, let’s take a look at everything we know about the oche.
Table of Contents
How Do You Pronounce Oche?
You pronounce Oche like hockey without the H, aah-Key. You may hear it called slightly different, but that is usually due to local accents or the person just not knowing the correct pronunciation.
Why Do They Call The Throw Line In Darts The Oche?
The origins of how the word oche became the name of the darts tow line are unclear. There are however several theories as to how the name oche cam about.
Patrick Chaplain, one of the eminent authorities on darts history, posits a few informed theories which may or may not be right.
He believes that the term is an evolution of the Finnish word “Hocken,” which means to spit. Apparently, back in the early days of the sport, players would spit to determine the distance to the dartboard from which they would throw.
He does emphatically deny one of the most popular theories about the origins of the term. This popular theory posits that the term is derived from the name of a popular brewery called “S. Hockey & Sons.” Patrick has done some deep research, and he assures us that no such brewery ever existed in England.
How Far Away Is The Oche From The Dartboard?
The oche is marked at 7 ft 9 1⁄4 inches away from the dartboard for steel tip darts when measured along the floor. For soft tip darts, the distance is 8 feet.
For those who measure in metric, that’s 2.37 meters for steel tip and 2.44 meters for soft tip
Official tournament play is very clear on where to draw the line, pardon the pun.
It’s also important to note that an oche may not be taller than 40mm high, 20mm deep and 500mm wide.
Sometimes a diagonal distance is measured from the bullseye to the oche as a reference.
Rules Of The Oche
During a shot, the dart player’s feet cannot step on any section of the raised oche. A valid position for a dart throw is one in which a player’s feet are positioned behind the raised edge of the oche. Any throw taken outside of this context will not count towards the total tally.
Sometimes a player is allowed to throw their darts from a point on either side of the oche line. However, the same rules apply. Therefore, the player’s toes may not step beyond an imaginary line parallel to the raised Oche.
Can You Lean Over The Line In Darts?
Yes. You may lean over the line while throwing your darts. As long as your feet remain behind the oche, any other part of your body may extend past the line. Leaning too far may cause issues with balance and reduce accuracy and consistency.
How To Setup Your Oche At Home?
The simplest solution is to use the measurements above and just lay down some tape. They even make special oche tape you can find on Amazon here.
If you have a dedicated area for your darts, you can install a permanent raised oche. A small piece of wood from the hardware store is all you need. I just grabbed some 1×2 designed for fencing. If you can find a short enough piece it will be under $5.
Laser oches are great if you have your dart set up in a shared space and you do not want a permanent mark on the floor. It attaches under your board and shoots a laser out to where the oche should be. You need only turn it on when playing.
Dart Mats are my favorite solution for several reasons. Like the laser oche, they can be removed when not in use. They have the throw lines marked at the correct length so you do not need to remeasure even of you take it up and put it down, its perfect every time. Lastly, they save wear and tear on your floor. If you play for more than a couple hours each week, a mat is the way to go.
Why Not Just Call It The Toe Line?
Some people will refer to the oche as the toe line or throwline. However, the term oche has been an integral component of the game’s jargon for decades now.
The bottom line is that no one knows where the term originated. Call it the Oche, call it the toe line, call it the throw line. Call it whatever you please. Just don’t ever step on it!