Tribal people used it to lure prey. A boomerang was thrown above a flock of birds to simulate a hawk. The birds would fly low to avoid this threat, coming within range of hunter’s clubs or tangling themselves in nets stretched across their path.
Boomerangs never hit anything and this is the reason why Australians were inspired to create the first rule of the sport: the accuracy event, a perfect throw with return to the point of origin. Before the Boomerang, there was the killing stick (about 300 grams, no aerodynamic profile, and non-returning, even if the target was missed) which was thrown horizontally and could stun an animal within close range. Both objects are often mixed up, and apart from the fact they both originate from Australia, Europe, or Egypt (a collection of boomerangs was found in the tomb of king Tutankhaman), they have nothing in common.The oldest hunting club was discovered in 1987 in Poland at Oblazowa, it is dated 23,000 years and is carved from a mammoth tusk.
Tribal people used a stone axe after exposing the roots of selected trees and then cut a section of the roots forming the shape of the returning or non returning boomerang and then began to carve the airfoil by slowly chipping away fragments on the upper surface to give the flight characteristics of the returning or non returning boomerang.
The branch or root is removed from the tree or bush and is carved further into shape. It may be heated or moistened to make the wood more supple, then bent and shaped into the final form before being smoothed, oiled and decorated.
Modern wood boomerangs are mainly made using 5 layer plywood and once the shape is cut with a jigsaw or similar machine, the airfoil is carved onto the upper surface this can be done with files or modern machinery including belt sanders or drum sanders and even routers for mass production. Some boomerangs are also being made with acrylic materials for sporting purposes.
Today, boomerangs are mostly used for recreation. There are different types of throwing contests: accuracy of return; Aussie round; trick catch; maximum time aloft; fast catch; and endurance (see below). The modern sport boomerang (often referred to as a ‘boom’ or ‘rang’) is made of Finnish birch plywood, hardwood, plastic or composite materials and comes in many different shapes and colours. Most sport boomerangs typically weigh less than 100 grams. with MTA boomerangs (boomerangs used for the maximum-time-aloft event) often under 25 grams.
Boomerangs have also been suggested as an alternative to clay pigeons in shotgun sports, where the flight of the boomerang better mimics the flight of a bird offering a more challenging target
The modern boomerang is often computer-aided and designed with precision airfoils.
The number of “wings” is often more than 2 as more lift is provided by 3 or 4 wings than by 2.
In 1992, German astronaut Ulf Merbold performed an experiment aboard Spacelab that established that boomerangs function in zero gravity as they do on Earth. French Astronaut Jean-François Clervoy aboard Mir repeated this in 1997. In 2008, Japanese astronaut Takao Doi again repeated the experiment on board the International Space Station.
Beginning in the later part of the twentieth century, there has been a bloom in the independent creation of unusually designed art boomerangs. These often have little or no resemblance to the traditional historical ones and on first sight some of these objects may not look like boomerangs at all. The use of modern thin plywoods and synthetic plastics have greatly contributed to their success. Designs are very diverse and can range from animal inspired forms, humorous themes, complex calligraphic and symbolic shapes, to the purely abstract. Painted surfaces are similarly richly diverse. Some boomerangs made primarily as art objects do not have the required aerodynamic properties to return.
Modern boomerangs used for sport may be made from plywood or plastics such as ABS, polypropylene, phenolic paper, or carbon fibre-reinforced plastics. Boomerangs come in many shapes and sizes depending on their geographic or tribal origins and intended function.
Many people think of a boomerang as the Australian type, although today there are many types of more easily usable boomerangs, such as the cross-stick, the pinwheel, the tumble-stick, the Boomabird, and many other less common types.