The level of conversation rises and falls throughout the second-floor bar at the Penhold Regional Multiplex over the course of the evening, but the steady stream of projectiles heading horizontally through the air is nearly continuous.
The Hideout Loft Dart League meets here every Wednesday. Throughout the winter seasons co-ed teams of two aim for leaderboard supremacy.
“I like shooting darts. I love the people,” said Les Perkins, of team Bandana. “You try to shoot the highest score you can, and try to beat the other team.”
Unlike other sports, darts count down instead of up, he explained.
“You start at 501 and every time you shoot you subtract whatever you shot with three darts,” he said. “You have to hit a double to go out.”
Susan Logan, of team S-Factor, has been playing with the group for about 12 years. Before the league was held at the Hideout Loft, the Penholder hosted the shooters.
“You've gotta have a good eye and concentration,” she said. “I visualize it before I throw.”
Leaders on the men's side of the scorecard are Andy McIsaac and Stuart Wright. On the women's side top players include Debbie Chennell and Karla McMahon.
Chenell formed a team with her son Branden, and finds the game a nice counterpoint to the daily grind.
“Most people don't realize how relaxing this is,” she said. “It's a night out.”
There's still friendly rivalries that develop, she added.
“There is competition don't get me wrong,” she said, but noted, “It doesn't matter what happens at the end of it.”
Vito Giannandrea, a cook at the Hideout Loft, said the dart league carries a pleasant atmosphere into the bar.
“They're a really good bunch,” he said. “Everyone's just having a time.”
Darts also bring back painful memories of what he admits is a comical childhood incident. At age 13, he was stabbed in the butt with three darts at a lake in Banff. The trauma scarred him with a lifelong aversion to the sport, he said.
“I wanted to have nothing to do with darts,” he said.
Now he's extremely careful when weaving in and out of the league players delivering orders.
“Try and go behind the throwers,” he tells himself. “Always try and go behind the throwers.”
Christine Kinder plays for team Sharp Shooters.
“How ironic,” she said of the name. “I'd actually never played before this year. Hitting the board was a start.”
Another reason to participate in the league is to go on the year-end campout bash, she noted.
“The only reason I really joined up is I heard the dart party is wicked awesome,” she said.