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What is a Boomerang?

Diana Bocco
By Diana Bocco
Updated May 17, 2024
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A boomerang, also known as a throwing stick, is a wooden item often shaped in the form of an open flat V or a cross. A boomerang can also take other forms, but only the open V and the X formats are returning boomerangs. A non-returning boomerang was used mostly by Australian aborigines as a hunting weapon or even as a replacement for fighting sticks. While boomerangs are not exclusive to Australia, the name comes from the Australian Turuwal tribe, which used boomerangs as far back as 3,000 years ago.

A returning boomerang is designed so one of its sides is flatter than the other. This allows the air to flow in a way that produces lift. When thrown correctly, a boomerang will use this lift to fly in a curve and return back to the starting point. If thrown incorrectly, though, the boomerang will fly up and then fall to the ground when the wind lift stops. Learning how to throw a boomerang requires practice, as most people do it in a manner similar to a Frisbee®, which results in the boomerang flying up rather than spinning.

A boomerang used for sport can be made of a myriad of materials. Wood is the traditional one, but more and more boomerangs are being constructed of plastic. The average weight for a boomerang is three ounces (85 g), with very few models ever being over four. Users can choose between a right-hand and left-hand boomerang. They are constructed differently so they spin in opposite directions. Using the wrong boomerang will make the throwing difficult for the user and can result in awkward spins.

There are several boomerang competitions organized around the world, the major being a World Cup held every two years. Professional players compete in a series of challenges, such as accuracy, endurance, trick catch, and long distance. Players from Germany, Switzerland, and the US often take the title. Swiss boomerang player Manuel Schütz holds the record for the longest throw, which reached 781 feet (238 meters) before falling to the ground.

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