This design is actually better than some commercial lifters. Its weight and handle work together to make it easy to maneuver the magnet directly onto the top of a boule.
Full instructions are HERE.
This design is actually better than some commercial lifters. Its weight and handle work together to make it easy to maneuver the magnet directly onto the top of a boule.
Full instructions are HERE.
Occasionally you stumble across a Youtube video that really speaks to you. Recently I found this one. It is only 15 seconds long. What it says is— Watch!! THIS is how to do it.
Marco Foyot shows the same thing in this coaching session; his first boule (at around the 15 second mark) is a beauty.
When lobbing, do NOT come up off your heels and onto your toes like the student is unconsciously doing at the beginning of the video. He thinks he’s imitating Marco’s form, but he’s not. (This is where a coach can help.) Marco’s feet stay flat and firmly planted on the ground at all times; his heels never leave the ground. Your feet are your base; you want a solid foundation for your throw. You throw with your arm, not with your toes.
While surfing the Web I stumbled across something called OBUT X CARHARTT WIP PETANQUE BOULE SET and thought I’d investigate.
It turns out there isn’t a lot to say. The name “OBUT X CARHARTT WIP” means simply that Obut agreed to manufacture a line of boules for Carhartt WIP. Around March 2020, Obut agreed to take a batch of their regular stainless-steel leisure boules, stamp a Carhartt logo on them, and try to sell them for more than twice their normal price. They don’t seem to be available in the USA, but you can find them on various European shopping sites for €116-€139.
I don’t see a bright future for them. They definitely fall in the category of What were they thinking??!!
Philippe Boets reports that Petanque America is again selling La Franc boules! They are available now! Visit petanqueamerica.com/lafrancboule.html
La Franc boules are made in Thailand. They are high-quality competition boules, reasonably priced, with a good selection of weights, sizes, and groove patterns. I especially like the glossy matte finish on the carbon-steel boules. It looks great and it feels good in the hand.
In the past… for many years… a set of La Franc boules from Petanque America was the standard choice for a first set of competition boules. It was also the first choice for players who understood that you don’t actually play better with an expensive set of boules! But there started to be shipping problems, supplies became unreliable, and in 2016 Philippe reluctantly decided to stop selling La Franc boules.
That was four years ago. Since then, things have changed. There are now a lot of new converts to the game in the US. There is a healthy demand for affordable competition boules with a good selection of weights, sizes, and groove patterns The dollar/euro exchange rate has shifted to favor La Franc. So Philippe decided to reconnect with La Franc, and La Franc responded quickly and efficiently. The bottom line is that Petanque America is again selling La Franc boules, and the future is looking bright for La Franc boules in the USA.
Here is a set that I just ordered. As you can see, the old cardboard-box packaging is gone. We now have a sturdy plastic carrier, similar to the way that Geologic boules are packaged. These carriers are pretty useless, of course. You really need a sturdy bag that can hold your boule towel, measuring tape, spare jacks, etc. Still, it looks nice.
The short answer is NO.
For a more detailed answer, see our post on Why amazon.com is a terrible place to buy your first set of petanque boules.
There is a new product on the market— the “petanque mat” (tapis de pétanque or tapis de lancement). It is a 50cm circular piece of vinyl polymer (rubber). It is 3mm thick. You place it on the ground like a plastic circle, and when you throw, you stand ON it rather than IN it.
It is manufactured by a Franch company, Tapis de Pétanque (tapisdepetanque.com/). Their web site says that these petanque mats were approved by the FIPJP in 2019, and they put a stamp on the mats to prove it. (I haven’t found anything on the FIPJP website that documents or announces this approval… but then the FIPJP said nothing a few years ago when it approved OBUT’s paramagnetic “black jack”.)
The mat comes in a plain black “classic” design (above) for about €20 and a slightly thicker (4mm) “luxe” version. The luxe version comes in a variety of preprinted designs for about €70, and you can have one printed with a custom design for around €140.
The touted benefits of the mat are that it can be rolled up, making it more portable than a plastic circle; it is comfortable to stand on; you can’t trip on the edge when stepping off of it; a player standing on it cannot move it; and it causes no disturbance of the ground that needs to be repaired at the end of the mène. I think we have to take those claims with a few grains of salt. It’s still possible, of course, to trip on the edge when stepping ON to the mat. And it is possible to kick and move the mat when you aren’t actually standing on it, so you still must mark it.
I think it is a neat idea, but for manufactures and vendors of petanque equipment, not for players. Basically, it is just another platform for advertising. In the future we may start to see mats with OBUT logos in televised championships, but for everyday grass-roots games nobody is going to spend €140, or €70, or even €20 on a mat when they can get a perfectly serviceable plastic circle from Decathlon for $7.
One consequence of these mats— assuming that the FIPJP now really does recognize/approve the use of mats as well as plastic circles — might be that grassroots players will begin cutting 50cm circles out of pieces of carpet tile, scrap rubber or carpet, to make their own home-made mats. Personally, the idea of lugging around a dirty old piece of carpet doesn’t appeal to me— I’d rather just draw a circle on the ground, in the traditional way. Or I could raid my grand-daughter’s college savings fund and purchase one of these tapis de pétanque— after all, they are washable.
Last week I tried to watch a petanque video on Youtube, but it was hopeless. You just couldn’t see the jack. It was a low-resolution video, the terrain was light-colored, and the black-colored jack was completely lost among shadows caused by irregularities in the terrain. Eventually I gave up.
Later I wondered what could have been done to make the jack more visible. Perhaps a different color. Or… perhaps… a larger jack!
There is no reason why the jack has to be the size that it is— 30mm ±1mm, as currently specified by the FIPJP rules. The size isn’t written in stone. Before 2008, the official size of the jack was 25mm to 35mm in diameter, which allowed for quite a lot of variability.
What if we played with a larger jack? For one thing, it would make televised matches easier to follow. And there would be another benefit— it would make the game easier for vision-impaired players. Last year one of our senior players began to experience the effects of age-related macular degeneration. Fortunately she was able to continue to play if we used our brightest-colored jack. But it occurs to me that we could help her even more by playing with a larger jack. Why not?
If you make your own jacks, it is easy to make a larger jack. Normally you would start with a wooden ball 1-1/4″ (30mm) in diameter. Instead, start with a wooden ball 1-3/4″ in diameter. The 1-3/4″ wooden balls that I ordered from amazon.com arrived in a package marked 1.7in | 44mm. The size seems good to me: bigger, but not too big. Here is a picture of the two sizes of wooden balls along with a 75mm boule.
I’m not saying that the FIPJP should change its rules about the size of the jack. (Although it would be sensible to provide competition organizers with a “large jack” option for televised games or games with a large stadium audience.) But I think that for friendly games with vision-impaired players, it would be quite reasonable to consider making and using larger jacks.
In this Year Of The Coronavirus, petanque players are finding ways to compete while maintaining social distancing. Shoot the 30 is a Facebook group where players can participate in a grass-roots version of the FIPJP precision shooting competition. The idea apparently originated in Europe and was brought to America by Wolfgang Kurz (Valley of the Moon Petanque Club) and René van Kesteren (Salt Lake City Petanque Club).
You can find one entry HERE.
The rules that I’ve found on Facebook are a bit sketchy, so I’ve filled in the gaps based on the rules of the FIPJP precision shooting (tir de precision) competition.
1. Draw a target circle, 1 meter in diameter, on the ground.
2. Place a target boule in the center of the target circle.
3. There are three shooting distances: 7/8/9 meters.
4. Throw 10 boules from each distance: 30 boules in all. Shoot the 30.
5. Each throw scores from zero to five points.
6. A perfect score is 150 points (30 boules x 5 points).
A thrown boule is a hit if the first thing that it hits is the target boule, or if it hits the ground inside the target circle and then hits the target boule.
A thrown boule is a miss if it doesn’t hit the target boule or the first thing that it hits is the ground outside the target circle or the edge of the target circle.
Points are earned in the following ways.
The easiest way to do this is with two people. One person throws and the other stands near the target circle, keeps score, resets the target area between throws, and tosses the thrown boules back to the thrower.
For a long time I’ve been interested in finding a simple method for measuring (assigning a numeric value to) a player’s skill level. If we had such a method, then a player looking for a partner for a competition could use that numeric value to help find a partner with a similar skill level. I proposed one idea HERE, but using a player’s “Shoot the 30” score would probably be easier….
I’m looking for a partner for the upcoming Amelia Island Open. I’m mostly a pointer but I can shoot in a pinch. My “Shoot the 30” score is typically ____.
Almost from the day that petanque was invented in 1910, petanque players have experimented with tools and methods for drawing a throwing circle on the ground. Using a foot to swipe a curve (courbe) in the dirt was crude. Drawing a cicle with a finger left you with dirty hands. Using a stick worked well, but suitable sticks weren’t always readily available. Players began to experiment with specialized tools for drawing circles, and in the process they created one of the lesser-known pétanque traditions— that of l’outil pour faire le cercle or simply la circulaire.
The most popular type of circulaire was made from the tip of the horn of the Alpine Ibex. Some were simply polished, but there was also a tradition of elaborately carving the horns. Possibly because many of the carved circulaires were created by sailors (who played petanque while in port and carved scrimshaw while at sea), one of the most popular designs was of a mermaid holding up two boules. In 1971, the founders of Starbucks Coffee adapted that design to create the first version of their company logo. The design was altered so that the mermaid’s tails cover the boules in her hands, but you can still see the boules in the band surrounding the image.
Carved circulaires were never widely used, partly because only a few of them were ever created, partly because they were expensive, and partly because the Alpine Ibex had been hunted almost to extinction. Some players improvised circulaires from old screwdrivers and, more recently, old ballpoint pens. Some players opted for a manufactured “petanque marker”, a version of which is still available from PetanqueShop.com.
Although these designs were functional and effective, I’ve always felt that they were a bit clunky. Recently I found a new, streamlined design that I actually prefer. It is long enough to provide a good grip and good freedom of motion for the wrist. There is a nice rubber cushion on the handle. A graphite core keeps the weight down, and its slim design allows it eaily to be tucked away in a pocket. It is available for €16 at PetanquePoisson.com.
[Originally published 2020-04-01. Reposted with permission.]
[Additional text added 2021-01-04]
This post is, of course, an April Fool joke. It is true, however, that petanque players have been known to make tools specialized for marking the circle. Here are a couple that I found on a German Facebook group. This one adds a circle-marker to the handle end of a strap for a magnetic boule lifter.
This one puts a circle-marker on a retractable key holder.
Online translators can be tremendously useful for those of us who are not bilingual (or at least not fluently). This year I wanted to translate a simple sentence from English into French. I ran it through four different free online translation sites. Here is how those sites compare.
There are a number of criteria that we can use to evaluate a translation site.
Google can translate only short passages. Its translation had one capitalization error. The SWITCH LANGUAGES feature is primitive. User interface is not user-friendly.
The user interface is good. A major CON is that the translation had the most errors (3) of any of the sites. On the other hand, it was the only site where you could hear the translated text in good native-speaker French. It can translate up to 5000 characters.
Click to open a larger image.The user interface is good. It is possible to hear the translation, but the spoken French is terrible – it was what you’d hear from an American who doesn’t know any French and is phonetically sounding out the written text. It can translate up to 5000 characters.
Systran seems to be the most full-featured of all of the sites. It provides a lot of vocabulary tips and offers alternate translations based on different “models”.
Click to open a larger image.
DeepL has a good user interface and produced the best translation of any of the sites. The real strength of DeepL is that you can upload a long document in .docx format and DeepL will translate it for you. This is the only site that offers that feature.
THE BOTTOM LINE
DeepL is our winner. It produced the best translation (zero errors), has a simple and friendly user interface, and can translate uploaded documents.
Systran is a strong runner-up. It did a good job at translation and offers a lot of useful extras.
Our obvious losers are Google and Bing (Microsoft). Google Translate has an extremely crude user interface that is actually unpleasant to use. Bing‘s translation was the worst of all of the sites, with 3 outright errors. However, it gets an honorable mention for its good user interface and its ability to produce good spoken French.
AN OPEN LETTER TO THAT THIRD BOULE
Lee Harris, Portland Petanque Club, Portland, Oregon, USA (August 29, 2019)
If I could be judged solely on the merits of you, my third boule, then I would be likened to the greatest players in petanque.
But I must be honest with myself. Your greatness is no reflection on me. You are ever flawless in execution and I marvel at thee.
Contrary to the first and second boule to leave my hand this end, you plot your own course, and refuse to follow in the ruts that your predecessors did.
You are unlike your two fellows, who went where I threw them and not where I desired that they should go. You threw off conformity to mark your own path, casually rolling past the barricade of boules, to nudge your boxwood compatriot. I pump my arm in salute to you. Bob, I believe I shall call you, Bob.
See our new All About Petanque Terminology page.
My friends and I are aspiring shooters, and one question that we toss around is— “Where should you aim when you’re shooting?” We’ve come up with a variety of answers. Here is the answer that I like best, because it is the one that works best for me.
Aim for the spot on the ground immediately in front of the target boule.
Go to the target boule and put your boule on the ground directly in front of it, so the two boules are touching. That’s where you should aim; that’s where you want your thown boule to hit the ground. Here is a view from above; the target boule is on the left; the ghostly circle on the right is where you want your boule to come down.
Here is a side view. You can see the thrown boule coming down from the right at approximately a 45 degree angle.
There a a number of reasons why I think this strategy works. Continue reading
All of the wooden jacks produced in France (about a million each year) are manufactured by one small company, Monneret, which sells its jacks to large distributors such as Obut. Now Monneret is reporting that caterpillars (larvae) of the box tree moth (la pyrale du buis, which was first introduced to Europe from East Asia around 2007) are attacking and killing the trees from which wood is harvested to produce the jacks. Monneret’s company head predicts that in 5 to 7 years, all of the box trees in France will be gone. The company is attempting to stockpile box tree wood, and says that in the future it hopes to be able to import wood from other countries.
There are ladies and gentlemen out there who haven’t yet played petanque but are interested in learning it. Perhaps they saw it being played while they were on vacation in France, or they saw it in the movie A Year In Provence, and it looked fun. They’d like to buy some petanque boules and try it out.
If you are one of these wonderful people, I have two things to say to you. First: it really is fun! Second: What you find on amazon.com almost certainly is NOT what you want. That’s because if you want to play petanque—
The problem with buying boules on amazon.com is that almost every set of “bocce/petanque” balls breaks one of these rules. Beware of sets being sold as “bocce/petanque” balls.
Are you a petanque player who is interested in learning how to shoot, or in learning how to shoot better? The WIRED web site has a new video that you will find interesting. The video is about “shooting” a basketball (making free throws), but the considerations involved are basically the same as those in petanque shooting. In both cases you are trying to launch a ball toward a very small target with consistency and accuracy. The video is HERE. It is full of stimulating ideas that you can apply to your own shooting practice.
I’ve been interested in techniques for learning to throw for some time. In particular, I’ve identified consistency and the height of the throw as especially important for practicing shooting, so it was interesting for me to see the video confirm (and improve) my crude insights.
If you’re interested in more information about some of the people in the video, here are a few useful links.
Steve Nash’s HOMECOURT AI is an Apple (iPad and iPhone) app. Its web site is www.homecourt.ai. I wish there was something similar for petanque shooting!
Larry M Silverberg is a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University. You can find a podcast interview HERE. His article (“Optimal release conditions for the free throw in men’s basketball”) is available HERE, but it is very technical and I doubt that it has any practical usefulness for petanque players.
You can easily find a lot of information about Bob Fisher, the free-throw wizard, on the Web. Just google “Bob Fisher basketball“. His book is Straight Shooter: A game-changing new approach to basketball shooting. His web site is secretsofshooting.com
A lot of women players struggle to throw boules to longer distances, so when I saw this photo on the Facebook page of Celia Crittenden, I just had to re-post it.
Good form is the key to gettting distance on a thrown boule. And in this photo Celia, one of the top U.S. women players, shows how to do it. Aside from the fact that she is squat pointing, note the full backswing of the throwing arm, which supports a strong throw. Note also the full backswing of the non-throwing arm, which keeps her balanced as she throws.
If you watch American football on television, you’re familiar with the magic yellow line. Incredibly powerful computer technology now makes it possible to superimpose computer-generated graphics onto the moving images of the game in such a way that the graphics appear to be physically painted onto the playing field. This technology was first used to display the first-and-ten line as a yellow line on the field (hence the name “magic yellow line”) but now it has advanced to the point where many other graphical elements can also be inserted onto the screen.
This technology has finally made its way to televised petanque. I’ve been wishing for it for a long time, and now it’s here. You can see it at a few scattered places in the 2017 Eurocup Finale on Youtube.
CLICK to view larger image
The technology isn’t yet perfect— the 10m10 distance shown in the first image was wrong. (The umpires measured it at 9m73, so the jack was good.) But of course it will get better.
In case you missed it… in April 2017 the FFPJP (the French national petanque federation) adopted a new logo.
A few petanque players in the USA brave the rigors of winter and continue to play with snow on the ground. Some of those players put their boules on some kind of device to warm them up. The moral of this post is that boules and heat do not mix.