Posts Tagged ‘non-returning boomerang’

As stated in a previous post – the non-returning boomerang (or rabbit stick) was the hunting weapon of open arid environments like southern California.  If made and thrown properly, they should fly in a straight line for over 200 yards, hovering just a couple feet above the ground.  The dimensions I use are from Errett Callahan’s article “The Non-returning Boomerang” in the Bulletin of Primitive Technology.  I just finished a new non-returning boomerang and took pictures along the way.  Hopefully this one will bring me some sweet lagomorphic meat.

You can see a clip of me throwing this boomerang here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy7h4YzMN_s

It starts with a big log of coast live oak, the bend must be just right, and it can't have any branches.

Chopping away

Eyeing a straight section

I found that sawing every few inches and splitting off the chunk was the fastest way to remove wood.


The rasping begins...

Roughing out a handle.

Coming along.

Width should be 2 1/4 inches along the whole limb.

Just chop away the green..

Thickness should be 3/8ths of an inch.

Rasping away... about half way there.

All sanded... just needs oiling and burnishing.

Finished! Except for flight tuning..


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The curve on this one is too open so it doesn't fly very far.

Hit a tree with this one.

Non-returning boomerangs or hunting boomerangs are said to be the preferred small game hunting weapon in open grassland areas.  Even over the bow and arrow.  This is because they can fly for over 200 yards in a straight line floating at 3′ above the ground.  And they are very deadly.

I’ve only made these two so far but I plan on making many more.  Like so many of these primitive skills simplicity meets a very high level of complexity.  What is simpler than throwing a stick at a rabbit for food?  But to make one of these fly in a straight line for 200 yards is a real feat of aeronautical engineering.

There are a few important parts to making one of these.  One is that you want the heavest wood available.  I used Red Oak for the first one and Live Oak for the second one.  The Live Oak is heavier and works much better.  In southern California Dunn Oak is the preferred wood.

You also can’t fake the curve.  It has to be from a branch growing in that shape or a green branch that is heated and bent.  If the curve is carved out of a board or a thicker log then it will cheat the grain and end up breaking.  Also the curve needs to be sharp enough so that the boomerang doesn’t flip over as it starts to slow down.  The final, important part is the cross section.  I’m still not sure how it should be but I know its important.  Some say lenticular, others say flat on bottom curved on top, and others swear that it should be flat with a slight curve at the edge.  I have yet to find my preference.

The cuve on this one is good and it flies pretty well.

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