We have seen the different forces that act on a boomerang and how they affect a boomerang's path.
In the flight of a returning boomerang, the factors to keep in mind are:
- the force of gravity,
- the force caused by lift,
- the force of your throw,
- the torque caused by the uneven speed (top vs. bottom) of the wings, and
- the force of any wind in the area.
For the boomerang to travel in a circle and come back to its starting point, we must
balance these forces in just the right way. Developing a good throwing technique requires
practice. Let's go over the basics so you can get started on perfecting your throw.
- To keep the wind from forcing the boomerang off course, try aiming the boomerang
for a point about 45 to 50 degrees to one side of the wind direction. The clockwise
angle from the wind is shown in the graphic. Adjust the position of the boomerang
depending on how much wind there is.
- Hold the boomerang with the V-point, called the elbow, pointing toward you.
The flat side facing out to the right as depicted in the diagram below. Hold it at
the end of the bottom wing, with a light pinch-like grip.*
Tilt the boomerang roughly 15 to 20 degrees
right of vertical. Increase this angle for stronger winds. This will aim the force
of the rotor upward, just enough to balance the downward force of gravity permitting
the boomerang to complete its path before hitting the ground.
- When you have set your grip on the boomerang and you have oriented yourself in
relation to the wind, bring the boomerang back behind you and snap it forward
as if you were throwing a baseball. Be careful not to pull your throw across your
body. It is very important to snap your wrist as you release the boomerang so
that it has a good spin to it. Spin is critical, it's what makes the boomerang
curve around. Finally, don't be timid when throwing your boomerang as it needs flight
time to complete the return.
- When you throw the boomerang vertically, the uneven force at the top of the spin
tilts the axis down gradually. By the time it comes back, it should be spinning
horizontally like a Frisbee (spinning disk toy). But don't try to catch it with
one hand. The spinning blades are going fast enough to hurt you! The safe way
to catch a returning boomerang is to clap it between your two hands.
Always be careful when throwing a boomerang. When you throw it, you need to keep
track of it at all times or it could hit you on the return. If you lose track of its path,
duck and cover your head rather then trying to figure out where it is. Boomerangs move
quickly, with a lot of force.
Your first attempt will probably end up on the ground (or in a tree). Your second and
third attempts probably will as well, so don't try to learn with an expensive hand-carved
model. Boomeranging is a difficult skill, but it can be a lot of fun to practice. You
certainly get a sense of achievement when it all works!
*Most boomerangs are designed for a right-handed person. I(f you try to throw it with
your left hand, it probably won't come back.) When you hold it correctly with your
right hand, the curved edge is on the left and the top wing's leading edge is facing away
from you. A right-handed boomerang will travel in a counter-clockwise circle.