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My girlfriend just gave me a boomerang for my birthday. I'd like to use it, but I don't know how. We're going to the park soon -- please help!
Any boomerang enthusiast will tell you that the only way to consistently make good throws is to practice good technique. Here are the basics so you can get started on perfecting your throw. Keep in mind that your first attempt will probably end up on the ground, as will your second and third. So, if the boomerang your girlfriend gave you is an expensive hand-carved model, you'll want to pick up a cheap plastic design at the toy store to use for practice.
Your first instinct when you pick up a boomerang may be to throw it like a Frisbee. At its heart, a boomerang is just a propeller that isn't attached to anything. So, if you try to throw it like a frisbee, the force of the propeller motion will launch the boomerang up into a vertical arc instead of into a horizontal arc right above the ground. The correct way to hold a boomerang is at a slight angle, say 15 to 20 degrees from vertical. This will aim the force of the propeller upward just enough to balance the force of gravity so that the boomerang isn't pulled to the ground before it can make a complete circle.
Hold the boomerang as shown in the diagram above, with the V-point, called the elbow, pointing toward you, and with the flat side facing out. Hold the boomerang at the end of the bottom wing, with a light pinch-like grip. This boomerang is designed for a right-handed person -- 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. It probably won't travel back to you if you throw it with your left hand. If you are left-handed, make sure you get a left-handed boomerang -- one that is a mirror image of the boomerang in this illustration. Colorado Boomerangs sells a variety of boomerang styles, and the company says that every model is available in a left-handed version. If you are throwing with your left hand, hold the boomerang so that it is tilted to the left, with the curved side facing to the right. A right-handed boomerang will travel in a counter-clockwise circle and a left-handed boomerang will travel in a clockwise circle.
To keep the wind from forcing the boomerang off course, you should aim the boomerang at a point about 45 to 50 degrees to one side from the direction of the wind (stand facing the wind and rotate about 45 degrees clockwise or counter-clockwise). Adjust the position of the boomerang depending on how much wind there is, as shown in the diagram.
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. It is very important to snap your wrist as you release the boomerang so that it has a good spin to it. Spin is the most important thing in a boomerang throw -- it's what makes the boomerang travel in a curved path.
When you throw the boomerang vertically, the uneven force on the top of the spin tilts the axis down gradually, so it should come back to you lying horizontally, as a Frisbee would. But don't try to catch it with one hand -- the spinning blades could really hurt you. The safe way to catch a returning boomerang is to clap it between your hands. Always be careful when playing with a boomerang, especially a heavier model. When you throw the boomerang, you must keep your eye on 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.
Boomeranging is a difficult skill, but it can be a lot of fun to practice. It's certainly a satisfying accomplishment when the boomerang actually comes right back to you and you catch it perfectly!