© 2013 Chet Snouffer
Like any thrown object, boomerangs can cause harmful, even serious injuries if they hit you or someone else during the flight. Cuts and bruises and damage to or loss of an eye are just some of the dangers you or spectators may incur. Therefore:
1- Always throw on a large, grassy field, free of fences, paved areas, holes and obstructions.
2- Wear eye protection designed specifically for sport while throwing.
3- DO NOT THROW IN WINDY WEATHER (over 10 mph). You should have 100 yards clear space in all directions. Any spectators must be kept well away from your
throwing area Everyone should keep their eyes on a flying boomerang and tum their back to it if in danger of being hit Exercise common sense and you will enjoy your boomerang for years to come!
Look at your boomerang and you will see that it is a set of wings. The aerodynamic lift generated by these wings and the gyroscopic action of a spinning boomerang combine to cause it to fly full circle and return to you when thrown properly! As an airfoil, your boomerang will soar like a kite in windy weather, possibly out of control and out of your reach. The best wind for a boornerang is a light,
steady breeze, 3-5 mph, but always under l0 mph. Mornings and evenings are often ideal times to throw, especially when learning.
Use a wind streamer or toss a small amount of gass into the air to determine which way the wind
is coming from. Face into the wind. Now, if you are throwing right handed, turn 45-90° to the right of the wind.
If you are throwing left handed, turn 45-90° to the left of the wind.
Grip the boomerang by either end so that the flat side is in your palm. You should be looking at the painted top,
Pistol Grtp:l grip my boomerang exactly as I hold a pencil, pinching it between my thumb and middle finger,
with my index finger wrapped around the boomerang. This helps impart spin as the boomerang leaves my hand
Pinch Grip: With smaller boomerangs like Fast Catch, Road Runners, and MTA s, I use a pinch grip, pinching it
between my thumb and index finger. Spin is the most important aspect to a good boomerang flight. Make sure
you impart a nice snap to the wrist as you throw. If the boomerang runs out of spin as it flies, it will fail to tum in
towards you and will falter to the ground. If this happens, try pinching tit tighter, throwing harder, or imagining a
tomahawk throw, spinning end over end.
Never throw a boomerang sidearm or back handed like a Frisbee®. Instead, think of how you would throw a tomahawk or cast a fishing line overhand. The throw is always straight out towards the horizon, overhand, and with lots of snap. The boomerang stays nearly vertical throughout the throw. A properly thrown boomerang will snap out of your hand and travel outward, spinning vertically. As it curves to the left (to the right, if you are throwing a lefty) it will rise gently and then level off as it returns with the wind in a horizontal hover near the thrower. Notice that the boomerang lays down in flight, and comes back to you slowly and hovering. This is due to gyroscopic precession and is good news! Without precession, the 'rang would just fly off diagonally across the field.
A good flight path is nearly level the entire way around. Common errors include:
Boomerang swoops too high and dives back at you: You have thrown it too sidearm!
To correct, keep the boomerang more vertical, like Davey Crockett throwing a knife!
Boomerang dives into the ground: You have thrown it too vertically or too high in the air.
Every boomerang has an optimal angle of release, and experimentation will lead you to the best angle of tilt; usually like this: /
ANGLE INTO THE WIND
Assuming your throw is correct, the most important adjustment for accuracy to get your boomerang right back to you without moving, is angle you throw into the wind. The diagram below shows you three angles into the wind and the resultant flight paths. These are for right
handed throwers. Here's a simple rule to help you remember and works the same for lefties or righties! If the 'rang lands to your left, tum to the right. If it lands to your left, turn more to the right.
© 2001 Chet Snouffer
Once a boomerang is carved, sanded, and sealed by it's maker, it's far from finished as far as maximizing its performance is concerned. Good boomerangs should fly fine when they arrive, but depending on your throwing style and the wind conditions, you may need to tune it to optimize its performance. Here are some of the most common corrections you can field tune. Always read the directions thoroughly and experiment with various angles of release and directions into the wind before tuning a boomerang. Also, NEVER TUNE A COLD BOOMERANG, as this may snap it. Finally, ANY tuning may break a boomerang if done improperly. TUNE AT YOUR OWN RISK. "Gently" is the key.
Tuning may be done "in the field" with manual twisting or bending, or it may be done at home, using a hot air popper (preferred) or microwave. IF you microwave, only go 15 seconds maximum on high power. Again, heating a boomerang MAY damage the finish. Boomerangs may be HOT!! Use caution when first handling the boomerang.
If the boomerang flies too low, gently bend the wingtips up slightly. The change in flight path can be dramatic, so go easy and adjust one, two, (or all three) wings as necessary to bring it up. Conversely, if the boomerang skies over your head, bend the tips down gently and test fly until it flies level all the way around.
The range of your boomerang can be dramatically altered as well. If it flies shorter than you desire, twist the wingtips with a negative angle of attack. That is, twist the wings so that the leading edge is slightly lower than the trailing edge. A second method I learned from Doug DuFresne is to place a small flap, 1/2" wide and only about 1/16" tall at the wingtip of one wing only. This spoiler really kicks the range out there and increases the wind resistance of the 'rang.
If the boomerang is flying too far ( a waste of time in Fast Catch, for example), then twist a positive angle of attack into one or more wingtips until the range is shortened up appropriately.
In wind, you may want to increase the range through either a spoiler, a small weight taped to the bottom of one or more wingtips, or negative angle of attack. You also want to slow it down! A drag flap almost 1/8" tall and taped to the underside of ONE wing, will slow it down while allowing it to stay up. A similar flap on the top side of the wing will slow it down and also lower the flight. Buy some velcro sticky-back dots at a local fabric store. Apply these as you would a flap. They are GREAT! Experiment to see which works best for you in the conditions you?re facing. A final strategy of all competitors is to drill holes in the wings for high wind. 1/8 to1/4? holes pop up in some of the best competition 'rangs around. Think about buying customized 'rangs for wind before chopping up one of your good sticks.
Another specialized situation might be a boomerang that doesn't get all the way "home" to you in low winds. You can lay it over more and throw lower, OR twist positive angle of attack into the wings. This makes a dramatic difference with most 'rangs. Another trick is a little dihedral (bend the wingtip up) in the trailing arm.
Good luck! If you have tuning questions, email me and I'll be glad to help! Or post your question on the discussion page on the Bulletin Board!
The How-To Page!
How to throw, tune, train and more! It's all here!