Back in the day — circa 1999 through early 2001 — I played my fair share of darts. I was working as a sports reporter at The Dickinson (N.D.) Press (owned, like the Daily Globe, by Forum Communications Co.), and it was regular practice to hit a fine little watering hole called The Rock after getting the sports pages done at around midnight or so. Considering bars in Dickinson shut down at 1 a.m., that meant an hour to, er, enjoy a few beverages and throw a few darts (or, alternately, throw a few dice).

Life, of course, is much different now. I work days a majority of the time, and regardless of when I do happen to leave the office, I always have a wife and kids to come home to. I don’t miss spending multiple evenings in “the bar,” terribly much, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good time.

Ken Moser of Worthington is still having a good time throwing darts — and he’s gotten wife Robyn into the act. “Some people take it pretty seriously, but integrating Robyn into it this year, I’m just trying to tell her it’s a night out, and it’s all handicapped,” Ken said. While some teams combine top talent and focus on winning, “we choose to play with our wives and have a date night out,” he added.

“We” are the Mosers and teammates Shawn and Emily Thompson of Avoca. It’s the men, however, who had the best treat of the dart season, which began in early October in wrapped up last month. Ken and Shawn went to the National Dart Association tournament in Las Vegas, Nev., to compete, taking second place in Level 6, Open Doubles 501.

“You have to be sanctioned and play weekly in a league … and you have to have 48 games,” Ken explained, adding that an average is then determined for placement within a certain level. “It was the first time we played at this tournament.”

Ken and Shawn took home a trophy for their efforts, which they put in over four days. The tournament as a whole ran from April 16-24 at the Riviera Hotel and Casino, and Ken said he and Shawn hope to take a couple of other male playing partners out their next year — though their spouses may have other ideas about who goes on the trip.

“They (wives) let the boys go out there this time, but Robyn has already said, ‘We’re going next year,”’ Ken said.

Ken noted that the atmosphere could be intimidating for some — and yes, there is drinking, though Ken said he refrains from alcohol during darts competition. That would disqualify me from ever competing at nationals on two counts: I would be definitely be awed by talented rivals, and given how rarely I go out nowadays I’d probably be on the floor after the one or two adult beverages I would need to get over the intimidation factor.

I think I’ll keep my darts competition reserved for the once-every-year-or-two occasion with my teenage nephews. The idea of getting my wife to play is fun, but we wouldn’t want to miss an evening home with the kids for it. Besides, if she ends up playing against — and defeating — me I’m sure I’ll never hear the end of it. After all, I once told her there was no way she could hit a designated target in her parents’ yard with a 7-iron golf shot, and she did it in just one attempt. She’d probably fire a succession of bullseyes just to spite me.