Practice Shooting

Improve your Shooting No.1 First published May 2005
Equipment Required Your own Boule. Ten Metre tape. Twelve metre length of string or twine
Time of sessions 30 minutes
Frequency Repeat when / or if required
Assistance required None
Line is everything
So far we have looked at all aspects of pointing. The important throw always used first in a game of Petanque. We examined many aspects including landing areas, throwing the jack to correct lengths, placing of the boule in an area, not just close to the jack, the condition of the jack! and pointing into a head full of boule. All the pointing practice tips have given you ideas and developed your skill. They have helped you to get your boule exactly where you want them. In the last exercise the opposition messed up your plans by putting boule in the way on the jack. This was the toughest task so far! How many times in the sessions did you out point two of the three boule surrounding the jack yet still fail to score because of the third opposition boule. Well at last, what we have all been waiting for? Shooting!!!!!
When and why to shoot is a tactical subject we will cover later, this session we will be covering the desire to hear that satisfying clack of boule against boule. For this practice you will need a 12M long length of string or washing line to lay on the piste. The next door neighbour should have replaced the last lot you stole if you cannot find anything suitable. The skill we are looking to hone is throwing the boule straight. As we all know, to hit a boule through the air, boule to boule, (Drop short Carreau later in series) the two things you need to get right are 1. to be on line and 2. Land the correct length. Those two aspects take a lot of practice!
Imagine you are standing in the circle looking at a target boule. You are facing the boule, your arm will come back and then swing forward as you throw the boule. Hopefully in your imagination you will hit the boule. The question to ask yourself is, how square do you stand when shooting. Is standing square to the boule the correct angle to approach the shot. Well time to lay out the line. Take the line from the centre of the circle you would be standing in to the boule you would like to aim at. Continue the line in a straight line past the boule until it runs out. Now a strange thing will be revealed. If you return back to the circle and stand in position to shoot the target boule you will notice you are standing astride the line. This can be seen below
 
The target boule is on the red line and your hand holding the boule you are going to throw is between 8 inches to foot off the centre line and is shown by the white line. Now the reason you have stolen next doors washing line is to display a fundamental principle. Trying to hit a boule as a target will mean you are trying to practice both aspects of shooting at the same time. Direction and length. This is Wrong! As we are starting from the basics I only want you to practice direction. As you can see now you have placed a string from the centre of your circle to the centre of the boule. If you now throw your boule and drop short of the target boule your boule will land on the centre line but not hit the boule. The only time the thrown boule will land on this line and hit the boule is when you are throwing to length thus hitting the target. So how can you practice throwing straight by itself and then work on length later? Well we can move the line! Move the line from the centre of the circle to the right, or left if you are cack handed, of the circle. The line will now pass under the boule in your hand to the target boule. All clear now? Take a look at the picture below.
 
Land on the white line while throwing now and you will at least land on the same plane as the target boule. If you wish you can still stand square to the target boule and throw across your body down the line or you can stand parallel to the line and throw straight. The point is that you need to practice throwing straight along the line to the target boule so you can position yourself before taking on a shot.
This may look and feel a little simplistic but it works.
As you get used to throwing down the line you will get your stance right and swing your arm along the line. Practice makes perfect. At this stage the only target is to land on the line. Be it 4 metres away or 12 metres away. By adjusting your back swing to get more length you will be able to land along the line at any distance. In real play the line will not be there but with practice you can imagine the line and adjust your position until you feel comfortable.
Play twenty boule down the line landing between 6 and 10 metres. Do not worry about the length just the line.
One point for each boule landing on the line. Be honest with your self and soon you will be hitting twenty lines out of twenty
Good Luck
Improve your Shooting No.2
Equipment Required Your own Boule. One spare boule. A jack. Ten Metre tape.
Time of sessions 30 minutes
Frequency Repeat when / or if required
Assistance required None
Fast Exit
We have all seen this happen. The shooter takes on a shot. Hits the target boule and then the smile disappears from his / her face as the target boule crashes into another in the head. The opposition are still holding and the attacking team have to play again. Why does this happen? Well many players shoot with a total disregard to a simple fact. When you shoot and hit the target boule but do not carreau you will have two boule moving at great speed within the head. As mentioned earlier you see a boule shot out and as it goes it either takes out your closest boule to the jack or carreaus it making the opposition still holding the closest boule and the shot almost wasted. Not totally tactically wasted as the boule shot is now further away from the jack. It could give your pointer with boule left a opportunity to point in. It is not good news as any boule you play should make the opposition play. It should not make you play two boule one after each other unless the opposition are out of boule. Bad luck can happen when shooting but can you really decide which way the boule is going to go after you hit it. Well you could try and hit the target boule on the side and the target boule will go out of the head at approx. 45 degrees from the side of impact and your boule will exit the head at the opposite 45 degree angle.
Hit it on the side!!!!!!!!!!! I have enough trouble hitting the boule at all!!! I understand your concern but as you have seen over the pointing series, all comes with practice. A spot carreau happens when you hit the boule directly in the centre give or take half an inch and given boule are 3 inches in diameter you have a large area to play with, No, seriously.
 
Here we see the boule following the white line to hit the target boule on the left hand side. The boule will then take the red exit route and your boule will leave the head on the blue route. If all goes to plan the 2nd boule in the picture at the moment will now be on. A straighter shot may have caused the target boule to hit the boule behind. The added bonus of this shot means you can look at taking two boule out of the head at once. Notice the boule at the other end of the blue line. If this is the oppositions your boule could well carreau it.
To demonstrate how this works and to give you confidence to hit the boule on the side find a large flat piste all to your self. Use a spare boule as a target and take your three boule to shoot. Using the technique used in Shooting No1 line up the target boule, however, instead of aiming at the boule, aim as if the centre of the boule is on the left side. If you shoot true you should have 1 ½ inches of boule to hit. Any distance over that to the left you will miss completely, over that distance to the right you will hit the boule but it will not go off at the angle you require. But hey! you will still hit it. So aim at the edge of the boule and when you hit it the boule will go off at an angle. Keep shooting at the boule, try to keep moving it to the right. Hit the left side the boule will go right. Well it works in snooker! Once you can move the boule to the right on a hit swap sides and try to hit the right hand side to make the boule go left. When you can move a boule right or left next time you go to shoot just hitting the boule will seem easier. I know moving the boule off at an angle is difficult but it is not a shot that will be needed every end. The shot is difficult but it maybe a shot that can win a game. If you are shooting in doubles and an angled shot is required try it. If it works that will be great, if it does not, resort to a straighter shot. Remember all the times you have said a boule cannot be shot because it is in front of one of yours well with a little practise it can be moved with devastating results. One final word. Remember in an end of petanque the jack is also in the head. Look out for the jack. the target boule or your boule may take it with it. Leading to that popular Pétanque term B*****ks.
 
Improve your Shooting No.3
Equipment Required Reading Only
Time of sessions 15 minutes
Frequency Repeat when / or if required
Assistance required None
As we have practised shooting over the last two sessions we now have a timely reminder. Just because you can shoot does not mean you should shoot. Hitting boule will still win you games, however shooting too much can also lose games. Here we look at questions you should be asking as a team.
When to shoot?
During the last two sessions we have practised shooting and we have given tips to improve your hit rate. You may have found the new shooting enthusiasm is dwindling as you seem to be dropping big ends or losing games against teams you really should not be losing to. Many players tend to think of shooting as a waste of a boule, certainly in the UK many teams rely on out pointing the opposition and do not shoot at all! Playing against teams who point six boule can be difficult as your hit rate will need to be way above 70%. This session we are taking a break from practice tips on the piste and moving towards the thought process of shooting and asking questions like When should I shoot and Should I shoot with my last boule? (All the examples given will be in a game of doubles)
A boule 10 inches away can look a lot different from the circle!
Who should shoot?
Shooting out boule can be practised but when to shoot is a tactical decision. In a game of doubles the familiar shooter and pointer team of normal UK players needs close examination as both players should be able to shoot. You will still lose many ends if after your shooter has hit three out of three the next opposition point is on the cochonnet. Admittedly one player will be a better shooter than the other, however both players must be able to shoot boule out of the head. It is a discipline that should be practised away from the piste. It is amazing how difficult it can be for a team playing two shooters and still comes as a surprise to teams seeing the pointer shoot.
When should I shoot?
At the start of the end the oppositions first point is touching the cochonnet, it is pointless, (now there's a pun to think about) to try to out point the boule with all of your six boule.At best you may nudge into the holding boule eventually and sneak one point. At worst you could drop four (see boule in hand rule) Part of shooting is deciding when. Well first boule touching the jack makes up your mind for you. Give your pointer some space by hitting the troublesome boule out of the way, even a clip on the boule may give you some room to point in with your teams second boule. If the piste is a very difficult one to point on you may shoot a boule up to 18 inches from the cochonnet, once again read the game and look at what is happening. If your pointer drags his feet to the circle and looks at you like a lost puppy he/she probably does not like the look of a point against a boule that may look harmless. Front boule are the most deceptive. Talk about the shot, look at the point from the pointers point of view and if the shot is decided upon commit to the shot and hit it.
Should I shoot with my last boule?
This is possibly the most asked question from players who have played for years. We like the statement "Never mess up with your last boule". The reason the question is asked is because many people say it when you have a disaster and give away points or even the game by moving the jack or removing your only boule in the head. So, before you shoot with your last boule just take a moment to look at the worst possible scenario because it will probably happen!
What is the Boule in Hand Rule and when should you try to shoot the cochonnet
If you have no more boule left and the jack is deemed dead i.e. moves over a dead boule line or shoots off the piste this rule comes into play. All the unthrown boule the opposition have in their hands count as points. However if you have only one boule left to throw or the opposition have no boule left either the end is deemed dead. The team who started the dead end starts another and no score is given to either team on that dead end. Just a mention here that the end begins from the end where the jack was before it died. This is the case even if the jack dies with the very first boule thrown. The circle can be drawn around where the jack was or on a line it took off the terrain. The dead jack boule in hand rule allows you to kill an end without lost of points as long as you have one boule left. Unfortunately it also allows teams to kill the end and score the boule in hand if you have thrown all your boule. For example, you have thrown the first point and it is very close. The other team shoot and miss, they shoot again and miss. They then thrown their last four boule and defend the jack so well you would have trouble scoring any more points. The option maybe to kill the end by hitting the jack with a shot. Hopefully the jack is deemed dead and you would score four points from an end where you may have only scored one or two. But back to the last question "Should I shoot with my last boule?" You should always weigh up the options of shooting. If the jack moves but does not go dead it may stop you scoring points, remember the opposition shot twice and these two boule may be at the back of the head still live. Yes the jack will land on them if you are unlucky.
Killing the end to save game could be an option. The opposition have pointed near the jack. It is not very close but the piste is tricky. You point four times and do not beat the first boule. They are on 11 points and the game looks over. You may decide to shoot the jack to kill the end and stop the opposition from scoring. If you fail you still have another boule left to defend the end. Drastic times may call for drastic measures
Improve your Shooting No.4 First published Sept 2005
Equipment Required Reading Only
Time of session’s 15 minutes
Frequency Repeat when / or if required although Sept is one of the best months to review your boule
Assistance required None
Soft Boule?
So far in the series we have looked at techniques and practice tips you can use to improve your play. Nearly all the coaching tips on shooting have been to increase your performance. Hopefully with the correct practice your game has improved. You are confident when shooting and will look for the shot during your play. You could now be hitting 75% of boule you go for instead of the 30 to 50% we can usually peak at without any coaching. The 25 to 45% increase has come from practice we have encouraged and the improved hit rate is going to be enough to swing the balance in most games that before the practice may have slipped into a loss.
The one thing we have not discussed yet in the shooting coaching tips is the choice of boule and whether you should go for the soft boule or stay with your harder boule or semi soft boule. As we explain to many players if you shoot with a hard boule against a hard boule using the techniques of earlier sessions and hit the boule squarely you will carreau. Some players find they get a fair amount of screw back if they shoot with a hard boule as the recoil from the impact can send your boule over three feet back from the original targets boules position. In all honesty, if you shoot boule to boule and hit the target boule correctly, you will tend to carreau using a hard boule or a soft boule. The advantages of a soft boule become apparent when you hit the target boule but not as squarely as you would like. Hitting the target boule slightly off centre will remove the boule from the head, however your boule will also exit the head in the opposite angle as shown in out fast exit tip. If you are shooting because you are holding the second boule then this split is not a problem as long as both hit boule and shooters boule miss your boule.
If, for example, the first boule is the opposition’s first point 1 inch from the jack your shot would generally want to carreau this boule and thus you would not need to play the next boule. It is always a sign of danger when your team throws two consecutive boule unless the opposition are out of boule. In general terms a hard boule hitting a hard boule off centre will send both boule in equal lengths from the impact point. Weight and size may affect the distance the boule travel after impact as will the piste surface. The distance travels determines who plays next as you may hit the boule away from the jack but if your boule has travelled further than theirs they will still be on. If however you are shooting with a soft boule you will see the impact is absorbed by your boule. The soft boule generally only going half the distance of the hard boule you have just hit. Now this is a rule of thumb as we all know anything can happen in this game but one thing is for sure shooting with a soft boule does give you an advantage.
Obut Match Popular hard boule 140kg/mm
 
There are strict limitations to the material for approved boule and soft or hard boules are not at far ends of a scale. Soft boule are still manufactured from steel the term soft is not a truly earned tittle
Semi Soft carbon boule
There are three main materials for soft boule, Carbon steel, Stainless steel and bronze alloy. The bronze is the softest of them all at 112 kg/mm *** see note below. The next softest is carbon steel and stainless steel at 113 kg/mm and then semi soft are generally 115 kg/mm. Semi soft boule are trying to create a balance between hard and soft boule. Many players have seen the advantage of soft boule but are worried the soft boule will wear out quickly. Now this is true, soft boules do wear, but the advantages are there for all to see. Clearly a high carreau rate outweighs the need to replace your boule every three years of so.
Boule has taken two misconceptions from the gentle sport of Lawn bowls. 1. In this sport the woods will last a lifetime. Well, playing on carpet or manicured lawns are very different than granite Chipping's scattered on tar macadam. 2. Getting near the jack is prime importance and you should shoot or "Fire" at the end. Shooting is a waste of boule!!!!!!!
Petanque players know Boule will be damaged landing on hard surfaces and clashing with boule as they hit. Even landing when pointing, the soft boule will react, absorbing the impact. Some players swear by pointing with a soft boule but that is another story for another day.
BDJ A11 Semi Soft Bronze alloy boule 115kg/mm The oldest type of all metal boule still wining games eighty years after design.
 
*** Kg/mm is a definition of hardness. The simplest explanation is to describe how the hardness test is carried out. A diamond or hard substance in a round form is pushed into the material by a given load. The indentation size is measured and the hardness of the material is determined. I.e. the pressure of kilograms per square mm needed to indent the material to a certain amount. The lower the number the softer the material. Hence soft boule approximately 110 kg/mm hard boule approximately 120 kg/mm
Updated and revised 10th Nov 2015