Welcome to Boomtown!

aLAcrity Boomerangs is a group of boomerang enthusiasts from Los Angeles. At the moment, it is comprised of three people: Manny (a.k.a. v12aero), phnxhawk and Charles (a.k.a. hey_kuya).

Manny and I (phnxhawk) started this blog to share our interest in boomerangs--throwing and tuning, making our own rangs, as well as unraveling the science behind them. As we continue our journey into the world of boomerangs, we hope to make new friends and to expand our horizons. In this blog, we will post such things as videos from our regular throwing sessions, musings and lessons learned from throwing, and thoughts on making our own rangs.

Manny and I started throwing boomerangs since Spring 2009. It has been a long road as we developed a semblance of technique for throwing 'rangs. Nevertheless, after many a bruised hand or windy day, our fascination with these returning throwing sticks remains undimmed. We most certainly have more to learn about boomerangs, but we'll keep at it as long as we continue to have many happy returns.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Give Me Some Spin...Spinback That Is!

Spinback 55 - A Boomerang Review

- Manny Olivares -

Boomerang:  Spinback 55 Graphite

Manufacturer:  Tomahawk

The Spinback 55 is a very unique boomerang that I’ve had for a good while now.  Previously I had not felt comfortable enough with the S55 to post a review, but now I feel more proficient.  However, even now the S55 is one of those rangs that I sometimes have difficulty using.  It seems to have a mind of its own sometimes and refuses to be completely tamed, even by a hand as masterful as mine (haha).  If you are intrigued by the S55 thus far, feel free to read on ahead to see if this is the rang for you.

Overview & Physical Characteristics

The S55 is a rather large boomerang as can be seen in the picture below.

From Manny's Rangs

I bought this rang off Mr. Rich Harrison's site (www.theboomerangman.com) and it is a very sturdy, heavy rang.  The first thing you'll notice is the way it looks obviously.  It very clearly says "Graphite" on the trailing arm and you won't soon forget it.  The rang is made out of a very dense polypropylene infused with some graphite and it has the weight to back that up.  I expected the rang to be extremely rigid and unyielding to tuning but I was very surprised to find that it has a considerable amount of flex.  The flex and "give" is also very apparent once you throw it.

The paint scheme on my S55 is a blue bar along the edge of the dingle arm.  The rest of the rang is a sort of faded black color.  Despite the lack of other "flair" it's a very impressive rang to hold and to look at in person.

Throw and Flight

"Kmphooosh!!" That is what phnxhawk is quoted as saying when asked what the S55 sounds like when thrown.  "As if it's tearing the air...a howl."

I'm always impressed by how awesome it sounds when I release it for the throw.  It also tends to make a very distinct metallic twang sound as the Spinback flexes on its flight outward.

This boomerang requires moderate to heavy winds in order the ease the throw.  On  a calm day you'll have to give this bad boom plenty of layover, about 30-35 degrees and as much power as you can muster.  The ideal conditions of course are those windy days when all your other boomerangs are failing.  This is when the S55 is in its element.  Not much layover is required, 10-15 degrees, and a medium strength throw released fairly level is all that's needed to get it to come back.  Too high or low a throw and you'll have a much harder time getting it close enough to catch.

I've always had difficulty with this boomerang due to the fact that conditions change very often at the beach.  We might start out to a calm windless morning and 1.5 hours later the winds have picked up and my other rangs aren't cutting it anymore.  The difference is night and day, from throwing S55 when the winds are nonexistent and having no luck getting it to return, to throwing it when the air is howling away.  This dramatic change in conditions throws me off and it's very easy to overthrow this rang in harder winds.   I've made the mistake many times of launching it too hard and hurting my hand on a catch that I perhaps should not have attempted.  Believe me, this rang hurts when it's coming back at full speed.  A smarter man would let it fly past perhaps haha.

S55 flies relatively low to medium height in a wide circular path with a range of approximately 55 meters as indicated by its name.  I've always been impressed with the hover it has.  Many a time I have seen it fly very low on the return trip and it just keeps chugging away and even passes me if I don't choose to stop it.

Note to the wise: This is definitely a boomerang that I would recommend wearing gloves to catch, though not required if you're really really awesome at slapping it between your two open palms.

Here's a video of me throwing the S55.


The Spinback 55 is one of my favorite rangs due to its great distance and the majestic flight I get out of it.  I can confidently recommend the S55 if you're an advanced thrower willing to rise to the challenge and take the time to figure out the perfect throw.  There is nothing better than seeing that gorgeous flight end in a picture perfect catch in your own two hands.

Happy Throwing!

Fancy your own Spinback 55?

It is available online at:

The Boomerang Man


LMI & Fox

Next time on aLAcrity......

Stay tuned for upcoming video of our new friend Gabe.  He has a very interesting way of throwing left-handed boomerangs...

Boomerangs: Frequent Flyers to the Perfect Tune

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Teaser: The Deadly Fog

--by phnxhawk--

Oh, no! What will happen to Manny and phnxhawk? Will they simply get up as if nothing was wrong? Or is this the end?! Stay tuned...for the next video from aLAcrity!

Manny and I have been building up a bank of footage that we have not had a chance to process. I was sifting through some of it recently when I stumbled across some video from a most foggy day. We did continue to throw as the fog bank surrounded us. Although the boomerangs occasionally did get lost in the mist from time to time, we evaded injury yet again. For my part, I was trying to discern whether I could get some sense of the flow around the boomerang as it tore through the fog, but to no avail. I suppose it was not quite the weather I would need for that purpose.

At any rate, we do have some more videos and posts in the pipeline. So, please stay tuned!

Putting my spin on boomerangs...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Boomerangs by Moonlight

--by phnxhawk--


Ordinarily, the onset of dusk would force me from the beach or field after a long day of throwing boomerangs. Boomerangs start to disappear against the darkening sky, as if cloaked by some advanced stealth technology. So, it would seem quite foolish to continue throwing, not knowing whether the boomerang is about to land a dozen feet to your right or about to ruin thousands of dollars of orthodontic work.

(As a side note, I have been known to throw regular boomerangs in the dead of night. I admit that I was pretty damn lucky not to have hit myself.)

Of course, the overwhelming need to continue throwing 'rangs into the evening has driven some throwers to try different ways of filling that void in their boomerang life. Larry, whom I have mentioned previously, has been toying with embedding LEDs in the wings of some of his boomerangs. He had mentioned to me in previous conversations that it has worked pretty well for him. I have also had good experiences with the visibility of the LEDs embedded in the Scimitar by Eric Darnell. So, I had high hopes that Larry's night 'rangs would make for an awesome show when I joined him to throw them in May.

The Boomerangs

He had a few boomerangs set up for throwing that night, including two Night Pro Fly 'rangs (Eric Darnell) and two plastic Paragons (Adam Carroll). He also had a Night Tri Fly (Eric Darnell) that he tried out for a few throws.

From 2011-05-29_Night Throwing

From 2011-05-29_Night Throwing

From 2011-05-29_Night Throwing

As you can see, the LEDs and accompanying battery, switch and wiring have been embedded into the underside of each wing, generally near midspan. They stick up above the clean surface of the wings by perhaps one or two millimeters, and they have also been taped over for some extra protection during handling. The switch for each LED is a simple push-button under a dimple in the middle of the cover plate. If I recall correctly, pushing the button toggles it between steady light, flashing light and off (or something to that effect). All in all, it is a very slick installation. The LEDs are quite visible and bright, even at a distance, making the boomerang easy to spot, both in the air and on the ground.

The installation of the LEDs accounts for the majority of the modifications Larry made to the boomerangs. For the Darnell boomerangs, Larry also taped over the holes at the end of the wings, aiming to reduce the drag since the LED modifications already add a significant amount of weight.

The Flight

I took some video clips of Larry's throwing the Paragon and Night Pro Fly. It amounts to colored lights whirling about in the shadows...but it was night, after all.

In flight, the LEDs produce a neat effect, especially when set to the flashing mode. Check out the result in the video above. Actually, it was most fun when we had two night boomerangs in the air, seeming to chase each other up and down the flight path. The LEDs enabled me to readily track the boomerangs, and I seldom lost track of them. (When I did, it was due to the fact that I had shifted focus away from the boomerang I was throwing and had trouble reacquiring it...but that happens to me even during the day.)

The extra weight from the LEDs and batteries, although somewhat trivial when held in the hand by themselves, is significant relative to the existing weight and inertia of the boomerang. As you might expect, being "weighted," Larry's night boomerangs require a harder throw (or a windy night) for consistent returns. The flight path tends to be more teardrop in shape, but I happened to be lucky enough to visit him on a breezy evening. So, the path was wider and rounder than might have otherwise been the case.

I would guess that the wind was blowing at a fairly steady 3-5 mph. I was able to throw his Night Fly 'rangs with about 10-20 degrees of layover and somewhat low (just below eye level) to coax the night fly into some consistent returns. They also seem to go out pretty far, but I did not take the time to evaluate the range. I would expect that they go out a few yards further than the unmodified versions.

On the return, one of his Night Fly boomerangs tended not to stop. It came in fast and needed a healthy dose of luck combined with some good hand-eye coordination to put one's hands out for a catch. The other Night Fly tended to slow down and end with a nice hover. In fact, it deceived me into thinking I could handily catch it, much to my chagrin. With only the LEDs clearly visible, I tended to fumble my catches, not having any visual cues as to the exact location and orientation of the rest of the boomerang. In one case, I put my hands out where I expected I could catch the boomerang, but wound up with one wing spinning around my hands and into my face, just over my left eye. Fortunately, the damage seemed to be minimal, and I was able to get back to throwing very quickly. (I also had no black eye the next morning.)

Overall, it was a great night of throwing boomerangs. The LEDs make for a dazzling light show. The calmer winds, combined with the "weighted" night boomerangs, do make for challenging throwing conditions, but not to the point at which they were unmanageable. And aside from the part in which I was freaking out about having a boomerang hit me in the face, I had a lot of fun. I would definitely go back and give those boomerangs another go. Hopefully, I can bring Manny and Charles along next time to create more chaos with four pairs of whirling lights in the air.

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"Putting my spin on boomerangs..."