- Don McPherson
Pétanque is a fun, social game popular world-wide that people of all skill and physical ability levels can play. If you’re interested in playing or learning, come (between Berger and the OVA offices/Umpqua Bank) at 9:45 AM on the Club play days of Wednesday and Saturday. We have boules to lend. Just sign up to be on the roster. No membership fees are required. The court is also reserved 10 AM – noon for Club player-arranged pickup games on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and is otherwise available to all Oakmont residents having their own boules.
A player “points” when trying to throw a boule closest to the cochonnet (jack). In addition, a player might use any of the three basic pointing throws to give a little push (pousette) to a teammate’s boule to “promote” it closer to the cochonnet.
A player “shoots” when trying to knock away an opposing player’s boule because it is very close to the cochonnet or because it is centered and directly in front of the cochonnet, effectively blocking pointing throws. There are three basic “shooting” throws. The rolling shot (raspaillette) is rolled out at ground level toward the targeted boule; the power ground shot (à la rafle) is thrown with force at nearly ground level; and the power air shot (au fer) – “to shoot the iron” since boules are made of metal – is thrown with force entirely in the air without touching the ground before hitting the targeted boule.
All shooting requires concentration, precise hand-eye coordination, confidence, and the ability quickly to clear the mind of missed shots and focus solely on the next attempt. Choosing which shooting throw to use is a function of the player’s style and skills and the terrain. Of the three, the power air shot – shooting au fer – is both the most difficult and, when mastered, the most useful.
The rolling shot and the power ground shot are possible choices when the terrain is relatively level and smooth and there are no other boules blocking the line to the cochonnet. The power air shot (au fer) is often necessary when the terrain is uneven or has rocks or large or irregular gravel or has other boules blocking the line to the cochonnet. The shooter’s most highly prized throw is a carreau, a direct hit in
which the shooter’s boule not only knocks away an opponent’s but also replaces the dispatched boule exactly.
Although every player will work to master shooting as well as pointing, the ideal péanque team will have a skilled pointer and a skilled shooter, with the pointer taking the first throw(s) and the shooter holding back until knocking away an opponent’s boule is needed. On a three-player team, there also will be a milieu, a player able both to point and to shoot effectively.