The Boomerang Page
Boomerangs have been in use for thousands of years. In fact, they were used in Australia as far back as 10,000 years ago. Similar sticks have been dated back to nearly 30,000 years. Even King Tut owned a boomerang collection. Nobody knows exactly where it was invented, but many believe that boomerangs evolved from the Australian aboriginal hunting sticks. They were used mostly for hunting purposes, especially effective for scaring birds into waiting nets. They were also used for small prey such as kangaroos.
There are two types of boomerangs, namely, returning and non-returning boomerangs. Boomerangs were the ones that returned and the ones that did not return were commonly referred to simply as “hunting sticks.” Non-returning boomerangs were able to travel further and hit the prey with greater force than the returning boomerangs.
Today, non-returning boomerangs are known as “kylies” and they are used for hunting purposes. Often kylies are referred to as a killing stick. They are older than traditional boomerangs and were used almost like clubs in that they are thrown, spinning through the air towards the target. Made of hardwood, they are typically 2cm thick and can fly up to 200m. These are generally straighter and larger than a returning boomerang, when thrown, they would strike pretty hard, often breaking bones on impact.
Meanwhile, returning boomerangs are used as playthings for children. They are also used as a rhythm instrument and digging tools. Sometimes, they are used for hunting birds. Today, boomerangs are made out of plywood or Plexiglas and they are used as tools in competitions. Competitions typically involve measuring throwing accuracy, time aloft, endurance, and fast catches.
- Unspinning the Boomerang
- Boomerang Origins
- Boomerang Fact Sheet
- Boomerang Competition Events
- Boomerang Association of NSW
How to Throw
Boomerangs are designed to come back to you. There’s no magic involved in their return, although it seems magical that you can throw something and have it come back to you. Throwing boomerangs isn’t easy and without instruction, you probably won’t succeed at throwing them. If you want a boomerang to return to you, you have to make sure it’s properly designed and shaped. Just because a stick looks like a boomerang doesn’t mean it’s actually going to return to you. If your boomerang still doesn’t return to you after you follow these instructions, chances are you’ve got an average stick. We don’t sell sticks; we only sell boomerangs that are flight tested and proven. Make sure you understand these instructions before you start.
Firstly, select a large field to start learning and try to aim for someplace empty. It’s just better not to have people around for safety’s sake. Pick a day when the winds are gentle so they don’t interfere. Always keep your eyes on the boomerang when it’s in the air. If you do lose track of it while it’s in the air, turn around, cover your face with your hands and count to 15. Listen for it to land and then go get it where it landed. It’s not uncommon for boomerang throwers to wear safety goggles when throwing.
There are two grip styles that you can hold boomerangs in. Which arm you use doesn’t matter so long as your thumb is touching the painted side, or top, of the boomerang. Then, figure out which way the wind is blowing. Pull up some grass and toss it in the air to find out quickly. Face into the wind directly. If you’re right handed, you need to throw to the right of the wind and left handed people should throw to the left of it. You’ll be throwing the boomerang 45 degrees off the wind. Again, remember the right-handed and left-handed rules.
Don’t throw it quite yet because you need to figure out the layover angle. This is the key to a good flight. Don’t throw a boomerang sidearm style like you do with Frisbees. This can break a boomerang or even injure someone. Picture a clock. Right hand throwers will need to place their hands over their booms to the right of the 12, between 12 and 1:30. Left hand throwers will need to go the same, between the 10:30 and 12:00 spaces.
To be doing “good boomeranging,” you need to make sure you impart spin on your boomerang. Snap your wrist when the boomerang leaves your hand because spin is critical to a good flight. This part will take a lot of practice.
As for how hard you throw it, that’s hard to describe. If you can throw a baseball correctly, then you should be able to master a boomerang. Most people start throwing too easy at first. Remember that throwing a boomerang rarely requires a person to use all their power. If it flies over your head and lands behind you on a day that’s calm, that’s a sign that you are throwing it too hard. If it lands in front of you instead, you’re not throwing hard enough. Take all of these tips and put them all together when you try throwing the boomerang. If you have trouble at first, don’t worry. Throwing boomerangs is something you have to learn how to do to. Practice will make perfect in the end.
The flight of a boomerang can be affected by something called aerodynamic drag. Drag will slow down a boomerang’s return. On days that are very windy, you want to make sure you add drag so that the boomerang does not fly past you when it returns. It’s also useful if you have a boom that comes in fast and hot, adding drag will make it so that the boomerang comes into the bull’s eye with less “life” on it, making it easier to catch.
Drag can be added in many ways. A favorite way to add it is to use tape to make “flaps” on the boom. These need to be about 1/8" tall and can be placed anywhere on the boom. A good method is to place one on the bottom of the dingle arm and one or two on top of it. Rubber band can also add drag. Just wrap one around one or both of the arms of the boom. Either way is effective and these things can be easily removed.
If you have many different booms and you want to make permanent changes to one of them, you can drill holds in the arms. Start off by drilling with one hole about 1/4" diameter in both of the arm tips. After drilling, try the boom out. If you want to add even more, add another hole about 2" up from the other holes. Some people have boomerangs that have as many as eight holes. If it doesn’t come back all the way and you have too much drag, you can tape over the holes to cover them up. The key to “trashing up” a boom is to experiment with different rubber bands, flaps, or holes. Once you’ve achieved a good flight on windy days, leave the boom as it is so you can pull it out when needed.
Adding weight is also a good way to alter the flight. Putting weights on can increase a boom’s range or alter its flight path. Always make sure to keep a duct tape roll in your boom bag because it will come in handy often. Use the tape to hold the weights on the boom, to make flaps and for various other purposes. Start by adding a dime weight to the underside of the boom’s lift arm tip. This will increase the range of the boomerang. If you want to make it more wind resistant, add two dime weights, one on the underside of each arm halfway between the tip and the elbow. If you add a weight halfway up the lift arm, the boomerang will fly lower to the ground. If you put that weight on the same spot in the dingle arm, it will fly higher.
- Competition Resources
- Boomerang Express
- Boomerang Sport History
- Making a Boomerang
- Types of Boomerangs
Aboriginal Arts and Crafts By Region
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