Friday, April 09, 2010


Nowadays, boomerangs are seen in sport competitions or in the hands of children as a toy, but people often forget its original function. Boomerangs are throwing sticks that were used by Australian aboriginals. It is a curved piece of wood that was used for hunting and warfare. They are also works of art on which aboriginals paint or carve decorative elements related to their legends and traditions. They have their importance in religion too, as they are used as an accompaniment to songs during religious ceremonies, by clapping them together or pounding them to the ground. But today they owe their reputation to sport competitions.

Boomerangs’ shape, weight and size depend on their tribal origin and on their function. Indeed there are two great types of boomerangs. The best known is the returning one. It was mostly used for leisure and recreation, even though, to frighten game birds into flight and in order to catch them, they were thrown above long grass. This type of boomerang, as its name suggests, has an elliptical path and comes back to its point of origin after being correctly thrown. They are thin, light (340 gr.), well-balanced and relatively short (30-75 cm). They are supposed to have developed from the non-returning type of boomerang.

The non-returning boomerangs, also known as Kylies or ‘killing sticks’, are longer, straighter and heavier than the returning variety. They could maim or kill animals when used for hunting, whereas they could cause serious injuries and death while used in warfare. Evidence has been found that it was used by the ancient Egyptians, in Southern India and by Native American in California and Arizona, for killing birds, rabbits and other animals. In Australia, when thrown horizontally and following their nearly straight flying path, they were heavy enough to take down a kangaroo.

Besides its war and hunting purposes, boomerangs were also used in the aboriginal tribes for sport competitions. Through trials of accuracy, speed and flight quality, the men of the tribe could show their dexterity, strength and accuracy. Nowadays, a boomerang world cup is held every second year. Two teams dominate the competition, namely Germany and the United States. The thrower of the boomerang must stand in the middle of an open field, at the centre of concentric rings that are marked on the ground. Whichever the discipline, the boomerang must travel at least 20 meters from its thrower. Some of the disciplines practiced during the world cup are the ‘Aussie Round’, the ‘Accuracy’, the ‘Trick Catch’, the ‘MTA 100’ (Maximal Time Aloft), the ‘Juggling’, and some others…

Throwing a boomerang is not as easy as throwing a wooden stick to your dog. Indeed, it requires a lot of accuracy. The flat side of the boomerang must be opposite to your face when you hold it in the hand, with the curve of the boomerang turned towards your face. The boomerang must be thrown 45° right to the wind, with an inclination of the arm of 1 o’clock. Note also that the movement of the wrist is very important.

Marie Demez & Pauline Nakad

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