Subscribe!Get all the best of On Walkabout by subscribing.

Boomerang Throwing 101

Recently my wife and I took a day trip to the Healsville Animal Sanctuary just northeast of Melbourne.  One of the shows you can watch while visiting the sanctuary is that an older gentlemen from a local aboriginal tribe puts on a boomerang show.  He throws the boomerangs around trees as well as throwing multiple boomerangs at the same time catching them all:

Picture from the Healesville Animal Sanctuary

The most impressive thing was that he was doing this in the wind and rain that was falling the day we watched the show.  Something else that was pretty cool was that his primary boomerang that he threw was the original boomerang that his great grandfather used and has been passed on through the family to him.  Overall it was a pretty good show and I highly recommend it.

Afterwards the gentleman sells handcrafted boomerangs that he makes for $10 a piece.  So my wife and I decided to go ahead and buy a boomerang from him and give it a try.  So this weekend we decided to throw around the boomerang we bought from him:

Let me tell you that throwing the boomerang is not easy.  The aboriginal fellow over at Healsville definitely made it look easier than it really is and is a testament to his boomerang skill.  Anyway here are the directions for throwing a boomerang:

  • A right-handed boomerang circles towards the left, a left-handed boomerang circles towards the right. Most sport boomerangs are in the range of 2.5 to about 4 ounces. The range on most of these is between 25 – 40 yards (or meters)
  • A right or left handed boomerang can be thrown with either hand, but the flight direction will depend upon the boomerang, not the thrower. Throwing a boomerang with the wrong handedness requires a throwing motion that will feel awkward to many throwers. Beginners should thus take care to get a boomerang with the correct handedness.
  • Grasp one wing of the boomerang nearly vertically so that the other wing points forward and the flat side is away from you. The other way works also, but this way is usually easier to learn. Holding the tip by just the end between your thumb and one or two fingers, launch the boomerang forward quickly while trying more for spin than for very much force.
  • The boomerang should flatten out on its own and arc around, sometimes coming to rest a little in front of the thrower or behind the thrower, but ideally it should hover gently and allow the thrower to catch it as a sort of “boomerang sandwich” between the thrower’s hands.
  • One should not throw a returning boomerang level like a flying disc. The boomerang will turn in the direction of the top of its airfoils, so if that direction happens to be up rather than to the side it may fly high enough that the landing causes damage to the boomerang or whatever it lands on.The boomerang has to have a smooth texture.

When trying to throw the boomerang make sure you find yourself a big open area because the flight of the boomerang is very unpredictable.  We went to a local footy oval with plenty of room to throw the boomerang.  I followed all the directions above and could not get it to work initially.  My wife tried it as well and could not get it to work either. Here is a picture of me throwing the boomerang:

If you look closely you can see the boomerang in the air just above the clouds.

We actually played with it for two hours and occasionally we could get the boomerang to actually come back to us.  The first time my wife got it to work she hurt herself because the boomerang came back and she wasn’t expecting it and it hit her in the arm.  What we found is that boomerang throwing is all about flicking the boomerang in a certain way to get the right rotation.  We just cannot consistently yet get the right rotation on the boomerang.

If you haven’t tried throwing a boomerang yet I recommend it because it is fun and definitely not as easy as it looks.  Hopefully with some more practice we can get some consistency in throwing it.  If anyone has any boomerang throwing tips I’m open to suggestions.