I like toys. I’m fascinated by ideas for devices to help with petanque practice.
Let’s start with a a photo taken at a petanque tournament in 2015 at Ville de Romans-sur-Isère. I assumed that it must be some kind of petanque practice device, but I couldn’t tell how it worked.
Now, however, I’m pretty sure that it is a variant of a traditional French game called boule à la pente (ball up the slope).
On a YouTube video of Festival de Pétanque Düsseldorf 2010 I saw this thing (it appears very briefly at about 4:30). I assumed that it was some kind of device for practicing pointing.
Now, however, I think that it must be a version of a game called trou madame which dates at least to the 17th century. It was played with balls or rolling disks, either on the ground or as a table-top game. You can see a similar device for playing trou madame at the left in the photo of boule à la pente (above).
It was reasonable to mistake trou madame for a pointing practice device. Here is such a home-made device from the web site of the Midwest Petanque Alliance.
The same Germany company also offers shooting training devices that automatically pull a shot boule back into place, allowing you immediately to shoot at it again. In this particular device, the target boule is suspended from a cross-bar.
I don’t understand why these devices cost hundreds of Euros when you can easily build something similar for a few dollars. It is hard to drill a hole in an old metal boule, of course, but you can easily drill a hole through an old baseball. Easier still— I simply tied a whiffle ball to a length of bungee cord. It does the job quite nicely and it cost me about $5. You can read about it HERE.
A post at the Brighton Petanque Club website describes this interesting device. “The club at Istrès held an informal Shooting a Back Boule competition one afternoon. Shooting a Back Boule at 10m is one of the great traditions at French clubs. Shooting is, of course, a key part of the game and shooting a back boule at 10m is one of the hardest tests shooters have to face. You can just place two boules on the terrain but often you’ll see a special area set aside for such practice – usually either an old tire with two boules bolted on or a piece of rubber, which is what we have at Brighton and what they used at Istrès.”
Two of the strangest devices I’ve seen are these. In this 2009 video their inventor, Louis Amour, shows them in action. They are actually rather neat devices for drawing the target circle (cible) and positioning the target balls for a precision-shooting contest.
Here are pictures of a couple of similar devices that appeared in 2007 on the blog of the Midwest Petanque Alliance. They look like they might be early prototypes made by Louis Amour.
On the Facebook page of the Zanesfield Petanque Club Bo Johns provided a picture of his “indoor shooting pit”.
HOW TO BUILD AN INDOOR PIT (AKA Giant litter-box)
1) Disassemble your large-breed's dog cage
2) Steal the bottom section of the cage
3) Steal the dog's mattress to use as landing pad
4) Snatch 4 short posts from the neighbor's fence to use as stoppers
5) Use large plastic strap to hold fence posts
6) You're all set for winter practices.
Here is a newer version of the same idea.
Here’s a tip from Joe Acchiardi, of La Boule Joyeuse in Maryland— use old baseballs as practice targets. A baseball is about the right size and shape, and it doesn’t bounce as much as a tennis ball. Your practice boules won’t get as banged up as they would if you were using real boules. And if you succeed with a nice tir au baseball you don’t get the loud THWOK that you’d get with a boule. That means that you can practice quietly in your own back yard without irritating the neighbors with the noise.
A simple wooden bench placed near to the jack can be a useful device for training in lobbing. The red arrow in this photo of a Japanese training session points to the thrown boule, which is dropping nearly vertically onto the target. When Marco Foyot runs training classes he uses frames and crossbars made of PVC pipe— the same basic idea.