So did you survive lawn darts without injuries? I was very young but am still perplexed how, if you stuck to the basic rules, these could lead to death? Grandma, even with her terrible aim, never once injured me with them...even after having an adult beverage at the picnic!
The darts themselves were known as jarts or lawn rockets, and the whole package was called a missile game - an appropriate name. Although different colors were used, the basic set came with 2 yellow plastic rings to use as targets, and 2 darts of each color - the originals were bright blue and red. The darts had plastic fins, covering a steel shaft with a pointed end, and were heavy and balanced for tossing.
The idea was that you held the dart by the metal end, and tossed it underhanded trying to land it in the target ring on the lawn. Both players would take their shots, then move to the other side and throw the darts back. If used as intended, the darts could be dangerous to a stray person wandering around the yard, or to a pet dog that might try to chase the dart through the air and get hit with the missile.
Clearly the big problem was when the darts were not used as intended, and in an unsafe or unsupervised manner. Not that something like that could ever happen in the typical American backyard parents were always watching, right?
Just imagine little Joey with one of these lawn missiles, seeing how high he could throw it. What goes up can come down anywhere, including roofs and human heads or other body parts. And then there was the possibility of using the dart as an actual weapon in a kids' war game - something that probably happened more than once.
I shudder to think of those misunderstanding how to play the game, both standing at opposite rings and tossing the jarts toward each other's ring, never moving back and forth (sigh). Could have been confusion as to how to play or just simple laziness...