If you’re training to be the next world champion in the javelin throw of bar sports, you may want to take aim at an unlikely target, because the pearly gates of dart heaven dwell in a sparsely populated Sterling strip mall. Mighty Mike’s won’t win any beauty contests. The divey locale is practically wallpapered with beer and NASCAR posters and leaves visitors smelling like cigarette smoke (although a nonsmoking section has some dart boards). But no one said training was going to be easy, so think of your postgame shower as a small price to pay to take advantage of 19 dart boards — quite possibly the most at any establishment in the area. Speaking of small prices, the dirt-cheap drink specials include $1.75 Budweiser and Bud Light bottles and drafts on Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. But Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights provide a different reason to make the trip: Washington Area Dart Association members provide bull’s-eye-piercing inspiration for newbies, with league games starting at 8 p.m. — S.M.
22330 Sterling Blvd., Sterling. 703-421-8920. www.mightymikesbarandgrill.com. Free to play. Other places to play:
The Argonaut,1433 H St. NW., 202-250-3660. www.argonautdc.com. Union Jack’s, 4915 St. Elmo’s Ave., Bethesda. 301-652-2561. www.unionjacksbethesda.com.
Summertime thunderstorms won’t keep you from channeling an Italian retiree on weekend afternoons, thanks to Black Jack, the 14th Street bar above sister establishment Pearl Dive Oyster Palace. Head upstairs and to the back room — snagging an artfully poured cocktail or brew on the way — to find two indoor bocce courts beckoning players to test their precision skills. On busy nights, there’s a sign-up sheet for those attempting to place their large green or red balls as close as possible to the “jack,” a smaller white ball. But for newcomers unsure whether they prefer the rolling or aerial technique, there also are rows of spectator seating (plus a helpful wall sign with rules). Large wooden pegboards broadcast potentially pride- crushing scores, helpfully turning a game for European octogenarians into cutthroat competition. — S.M.
1612 14th Street NW. 202-986-5225. www.blackjackdc.com. Free to play.
Other places to play:
Vinoteca, 1940 11th St. NW. 202-332-9463. www.vinotecadc.com.
This arcade game may be rivaled only by the claw machine for its misleading simplicity. How can something that looks so straightforward turn out to be such a four-letter-word-inducing challenge? In the basement of Iron Horse Taproom, which boasts two machines, you can remind yourself just how difficult it can be to roll a ball along an inclined plane and into variously rewarding holes. On Monday nights, the place gets inundated with United Social Sports leaguers, but that gives bar-goers a chance to focus on the impressive rotating list of draft beers or try their hand at Sopranos pinball, which is not exactly timely but still proves an entertaining way to spend 50 cents. Happy-hour specials, including $2 off draft beers until 8 p.m. daily, dull the pain of missing the 100-point holes. — S.M.
507 Seventh St. NW. 202-347-7665. www.ironhorsedc.com. 50 cents per game. Other places to play:
The Barking Dog, 4723 Elm St., Bethesda. 301-654-0022. www.thebarkingdogonline.com. Pour House, 319 Pennsylvania Ave., SE. 202-546-0779. www.pourhousedc.