There is no such thing as the best Boomerang, because each one of them has its own material, importance, look, style, technique, use and effect.
We can rephrase it as types of Boomerang, material, its techniques, and so on.
Boomerangs in Speech and Sport Today
Even today, people continue to confuse the terms, and even when they are aware of two different types of throw-sticks, they speak of them all as boomerangs; and even most contemporary Aboriginal people today use the terms ‘returning’ and ‘non-returning’ Boomerangs when speaking English. But many boomerang enthusiasts today would agree with Fraser’s comment from over a century ago: ‘It is important that two different words be used’.
The BAA (Boomerang Association of Australia) and the BTA of New South Wales have consistently referred to only returning devices as Boomerangs when setting rules for competitions, and have used the term Hunting Stick for competitions with non-returning throw-sticks. It has been regarded important to prese̋rve the Aboriginal origin of boomerangs in the sport, and to this end maybe an insistence on the correct terms is an education that most people need. If we are going to promote the sport of Boomerangs with its history and pre-history accurately, then perhaps we need to insist:
IF IT DOESN’T COME BACK, IT’S NOT A BOOMERANG.
Types of Boomerangs:
Traditionally made of wood, modern boomerangs used for sport may be made from plywood or plastics such as ABS, polypropylene, phenolic paper, or carbon fiber-reinforced plastics.
The most recognizable type of the boomerang is the L-shaped returning boomerang; while non-returning throwing sticks (or kylies in aboriginal languages of Australia) were used as weapons, returning boomerangs have been used primarily for leisure or recreation.
A returning boomerang is a rotating wing. It consists of two or more arms, or wings, connected at an angle; each wing is shaped as an airfoil section. Although it is not a requirement that a boomerang be in its traditional shape, it is usually flat.
ABS- A type of plastic for making boomerangs that is denser than wood and polypropylene, but less dense than phenolic. It is harder and more brittle than wood, polypropylene and phenolic.
Aircraft grade- Refers to a high-quality grade of plywood. It has stricter controls on voids in the layers and on the surface, and may rotate adjacent layers of ply by 45° rather than 90° (resulting in a stiffer composite material).
Aluminium-While metal boomerangs are not allowed in competition, this material has been used for creating a number of boomerangs
Baltic birch- Often considered the minimum standard for creating quality boomerangs, baltic birch typically has layers approximately 1 mm thick. It is considerably cheaper than Finnish birch.
Carbon fibre- A very stiff composite material used for a variety of boomerangs, including MTAs. It is pitch black in colour.
Cyalume- A chemical that absorbs light and slowly releases it. Used for illuminating boomerangs thrown at night. Most commonly available in capsules, it has a relatively short life (several hours) once activated. Freezing the capsule pauses the deterioration of the chemical for a week or so, allowing it to be used on multiple occasions.
Fiberglass- A stiff and dense material, but difficult to work and thus make boomerangs out of. Fiberglass tape and resin is a common combination used to repair a broken boomerang.
Finnish birch-A high-grade quality of plywood, typically with 2 plys per mm
G-10- A composite of phenolic and fiberglass
LED- A Light-Emitting Diode. These are commonly used for illuminating boomerangs thrown at night, as LEDs emit a relatively bright light for the small amount of power they consume. Increasingly, they are combined with electrical circuits that allow simple, or very complex, patterns of flashing on and off. This extends battery life and can create stunning effects when spinning during flight.
Lexan-Normally translucent, it is a poly carbonate plastic that is quite stiff.
Marine plywood- It’s a Plywood in which the glue is waterproof, yet the actual wood is no more waterproof than that of non-marine plywood.
Paxolin (paper phenolic, pax)- A very popular composite material for making boomerangs, made of layers of paper bonded with phenolic resin. This material is denser than wood, yet durable and easily tuned.
PET-The plastic used for drink bottles. In thicker sections it is stiff and easy to work.
Phenolic resin (Bakelite)- A stiff and dense plastic, usually combined with layers of paper (paxolin), or a linen such as cotton
Ply- An individual thin layer of wood in a plywood
Plywood-A wood and glue composite with thin layers of wood that have the grain aligned at alternating angles to create a much stiffer material than is available with a natural section of wood.
Polypropylene- A relatively soft plastic that comes in various colours. The “stress relieved” version is used for boomerangs. It is most commonly known as the material used by the Tri-Fly boomerangs made by American Eric Darnell.
Strip-Laminated Boomerang- A construction method involving thin layers of wood adhered perpendicular to the plane of the boomerang (ie. along the length of the wings), as opposed to in the plane of the boomerang (as in plywood). Primarily done for aesthetic reasons.
Who invented the Boomerang and why? How does it work?
Which culture invented the Boomerang?
It will be incorrect to say that any one single person invented the Boomerang.
The throw-stick, called a kylie by the native Australians and a rabbit stick by the Hopi people of pre-European America, was a heavy, non-returning aerodynamic weapon thrown horizontally to kill or stun prey.
At some point (perhaps by accident) the stick became more curved and refined (and much lighter) so that, when thrown vertically, it would return to the thrower. These true boomerangs were probably only used for fun and games, not as weapons.
The Sydney Gazette published the first known printed description of a boomerang’s flight path, but even then it was not given the name Boomerang. Indeed, it was not until 1822 that this fascinating device was described in detail and recorded as a ‘bou-mar-rang’, from the language of the Turuwal people of the George’s River near Port Jackson. What is immediately apparent is that these same people had other words for their hunting sticks but used ‘boormarang’ to refer to a returning throw-stick.
Many of the Aboriginal words we use in English are from the Dharug language, including boomerang, waratah, wallaby, dingo, kookaburra, koala and woomera, yet mistakes were made, including the recording of boomerang as wommerang — a confusion of boomerang and wommera or woomera (a spear-thrower).
The fighting weapons of the Australians are few in number and simple in construction; the ‘come-back’ variety is not a fighting weapon. A dialect name for it is ‘bargan’ which word may be explained in our language to mean ‘bent like a sickle or crescent moon’. It is important that two different words should be used, for much confusion has been produced in the past by both varieties being called ‘bumarang’.
How to Throw a Boomerang?
First of all, make sure you have a true returning boomerang. Any throwing should occur in an area appropriate for the type and range of boomerang being used. In some cases this could mean inside a gym or hall, but mostly this means outdoors, on a field with at least 50 metres in all directions around your throwing point. A cricket or footy ground is ideal.
Make sure you return to the center point for each new throw. This is important for both safety reasons, and to help ensure you throw consistently.
If you have the option, avoid throwing in anything over moderate wind. Some boomerangs need a small amount of wind to return completely, but most do not. Rain generally has little effect on boomerangs in flight, but ensure any such boomerang has been sealed against moisture, and remember to dry your hand and the boomerang before each throw, to maintain your grip.
Direction of throw due to wind- You want to throw “around” the wind, this means throwing to the right of the wind, and having the boomerang return on your left side. If you’re a left-hander, you need to mirror what’s written here.
Different boomerangs require different angles off the wind — starting with 45–50° to the right of the wind, and working from there. Generally, Fast Catch-style boomerangs will need to be thrown further off the wind, even at 90° or more, whereas some others, including many MTAs and Trick Catch boomerangs, are thrown more directly into the wind.
For the bulk of boomerangs, you should be releasing the boomerang at eye-height, and aiming approximately 10° above the ground. This means, typically, aiming at the top of the trees surrounding your field. Only a few boomerangs, including some MTAs and Trick Catch boomerangs, require you to throw notably upwards.
Most boomerangs require only a little bit of layover. Generally, the further a boomerang travels, the more it needs to be laid over. The extremes of this are Fast Catch boomerangs that might need slight negative layover i.e., tilting inwards, towards your head, and Distance boomerangs, which might be thrown almost flat i.e., with 90° of layover. The bulk of MTAs want no layover when throwing. Throwing a boomerang with too much layover can be dangerous to both the thrower and the boomerang, as the boomerang will climb high before crashing back down.
Imparting spin to the departing boomerang is crucial. Without spin, a boomerang is just a bent stick. Creating enough spin is a common problem for novice throwers. Don’t “let go” of the boomerang; let it rip its way out of your hand. This will help maximize its initial spin. Another way to increase spin is to cock the boomerang back in your hand.
And finally, how hard you throw, although this is not as important as spin, yet you’ll never break a Fast Catch record without throwing hard.
How to tune a boomerang?
First off, don’t try tuning a boomerang until you can throw decently, and consistently (unless you KNOW the boomerang is poorly tuned). You will not be able to assess the effect of your tuning if there is no consistency between your throws. Concentrating on tuning to the detriment of throwing technique will get you nowhere.
There are two main things you can do to tune a boomerang – Change the dihedral, or change the angle of attack. For a two-armed boomerang, and considering the two directions the bend or twist can be made, you therefore have a total of eight potential changes.
Luckily the superimposition method of tuning, as initially described by American Dr. Fred Malmberg, makes those eight possible changes easy to remember. Here’s how it works:
Hold the tips of a two-armed boomerang, top facing up, in your hands. Now imagine the bend of the boomerang represents the flight pattern. Then, simply, bend the boomerang to more closely match the flight pattern you want!
How can you make a Boomerang?
A returning boomerang is a rotating wing. It consists of two or more arms, or wings, connected at an angle; each wing is shaped as an airfoil section. Although it is not a requirement that a boomerang be in its traditional shape, it is usually flat. Most sport boomerangs weigh between 70 and 110 grams (2.5 and 3.9 oz), have a 250–350 millimetres (9.8–13.8 in) wingspan and a 20–40 m (22–44 yd) range. The modern boomerang is often computer-aided 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. 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 (3.5 oz), with MTA boomerangs (boomerangs used for the maximum-time-aloft event) often under 25 grams (0.9 oz).
The modern boomerang is often computer-aided 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, French Astronaut Jean-François Clervoy aboard Mir repeated this in 1997 and In 2008, Japanese astronaut Takao Doi again repeated the experiment on board the International Space Station established that boomerangs function in zero gravity as they do on Earth.