Enjoying the company of friends and a drink are key ingredients to a successful darts match, according to Masters Games players.
Wanganui courier driver Fiona Lowe and Palmerston North recruiter Sarnia West have been playing together in the Masters Games since 2009, and have several medals both as a team and as individuals. The pair play in every class they can enter and at the 2011 Games they won gold in the women's fours and bronze in the pairs.
West also won silver with Paul Matenga in the mixed pairs in 2011, a feat she hopes to repeat with him today.
It's almost become a cliche that top darts players are always drinking, and at 9.30am yesterday most players were already on to their second drink, but West said for many people drinking while playing did actually help.
"It's partly a psychological thing. Some can't play unless they have a glass of wine to calm down their nerves before a big game, but it's also part of the atmosphere. It helps everyone loosen up, and I guess that's part of what makes it such a social sport."
Lowe agreed, showing a shaky hand in between throws.
Lowe said they travelled around the North Island for tournaments most weekends between February and October, which meant they were meeting people and making new friends.
"It's also a very good game for your mathematics. I could never multiply or subtract until I started playing this."
Another player with Masters history is Beverley Hasler from Feilding, who has competed at the Games since 2011.
"I first started playing maybe 40 years ago. All my kids love to play darts, and whenever they had a new friend come round I'd make sure they knew how to play too before they left."
Despite health problems which saw her lose her driving licence, Hasler can, and does, still compete with the best of them.
"I can't drive anymore but I can still throw the darts well enough."