What is a boomerang?

          Boomerang is a curved wooden missile used for hunting and warfare by Australian Aborigines and some indigenous tribes elsewhere. Basically there are two kinds of boomerangs: returning and non-returning. The more noted form is the returning boomerang developed by the tribes of eastern and Western Australia. It is so shaped that when thrown to a target at distance it returns back to the thrower if the target is missed. Its length is about 30-75 cm (12-30 inches) and weighs upto 340 gms. It varies in form — ranging from deep, even curved to one whose arms are at 90° with the ends twisted in opposite directions. When thrown with power and skill, it completes a circle, 45 metres wide or more and then several small circles upto five, before it drops to the ground near the thrower. Do you know how it comes back to the hunter?

          T.L. Mitchell, a Scottish explorer of Australia, gave the true explanation to this effect. He rejected the earlier notion that different air pressures on upper and lower parts of the boomerang were the main causes of its return to the thrower. His explanation was as follows:

          First, the boomerang is held from one end, above and behind the thrower’s shoulder, with the concave edge to the front. Then it is swung forward rapidly with the flat side underneath. Just before its release, it is given extra power with a strong wrist movement.

          If thrown downward or parallel to the ground, it sweeps upward to a height of 45 metres or more. When thrown in such a manner that its one end strikes the ground it ricochets into the air at a terrific speed, spinning endwise. It completes a circle of 45 metres or wider and then several smaller ones, around five, before it drops to the ground near the thrower.

          Non-returning boomerangs are suitable for hunting and fighting, and have been used by North American Indians and other hunters against birds and small animals. A returning or spinning boomerang hits a target with far greater force than a thrown rock or stick.