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Returning Boomerangs

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How to throw a boomerang.

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.

45-50 degree clockwise rotation from the wind is one good throw direction.
  1. 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.

  2. 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.*

  3. With flat side on right, boomerang elbow toward you, tilt about 15-20 
					   degrees clockwise from the  vertical. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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*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.

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