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.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lefties for Righties

by Manny Olivares

Hello all! If you are befuddled by the title of this post, no worries, the meaning will be clear momentarily. I mentioned a while back that I would post about an interesting way of throwing left-handed boomerangs. The time has come and soon you will all be enlightened and inspired with knowledge gained by aLAcrity through meeting another thrower from the area, Gabe. Some may even feel that they have gained the true secret to a happy and fulfilling boomerang life (I might have gone a little too far there...haha).

It was several weeks ago and we had just arrived at the park where we regularly throw with our other aLAcrity member, Charles. It was here that we were introduced to Gabe and then we all proceeded to start throwing our rangs. I began to watch Gabe throw, as he had just picked up a boomerang I was unfamiliar with and I wanted to see what kind of flight it had. He released the rang with his right-hand and it did the strangest of things! The boomerang began turning right in a clockwise flight, as opposed to going counter-clockwise like any self-respecting boomerang should go!

I was appalled at this apparent violation of boomerang law and instantly asked Gabe how he had managed to do such an incredibly feat. "It's a left-handed boomerang," he said casually. OF COURSE! Such a short answer but it explained the magic I had seen occur right before my eyes. Soon I had Gabe showing me how to do it, throwing a left-handed boomerang with your right-hand.

It's pretty simple of course, just follow the rules of right-handed boomerangs in reverse, thus changing it to left-handed boomerang rules. Throw to the left of the direction of the wind and instead of leaning it right for layover, lean it left. The paint should always be facing you. The big secret, of course, is to use your right-hand instead of your left. Ta-Dah! You are now free to shower me with praise. Ha ha. ;-)

Seriously though, seeing it in person was pretty cool. Considering that I don't own any left-handed boomerangs I probably would have never tried it myself. While this might not be a mind-blowing trick or anything it can come in useful every now and then.

Last year I ordered a boomerang and received a left-handed version as opposed to right. I tried throwing it a few times with my left but my throwing technique was horrible. Having never used my left-hand in the throwing motion I felt and looked incredibly awkward while tossing it. I could have easily thrown it with my right and been able to get a little joy out of it.

Anyway, I made the following video of me trying to reproduce Gabe's throw. It felt incredibly awkward at first but eventually I managed to succeed. I could have accomplished it much faster than I did, but this was a particularly bad catching day as you will see lol. Enjoy!

Thanks for watching!

aLAcrity Boomerangs

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ask aLAcrity #1: Entry-Level Boomerangs

--by phnxhawk--

We here at aLAcrity have lately been receiving questions about boomerangs from readers of the blog. In the spirit of sharing knowledge, Manny and I thought it might be a good idea to base some of our blog posts around our responses to some of these queries. So, we present the first "Ask aLAcrity," our new, regularly unscheduled column in which one of us addresses a question that we have received from you, the esteemed reader.

Question: What would you recommend for one's first 'rang as an introduction to the sport?

My top picks for entry-level boomerangs (that are for young adult/adult throwers, that are currently readily available and that I have thrown more than once):
My top pick (and Charles') from that group, if I had to pick only one as my recommendation, would probably be the Pro Fly or Tri Fly in polypropylene.

Right out of the shipping container, with little modification, the Pro Fly has been very reliable for me in performance. It was easy and straightforward to learn to throw, as it was very similar to many of the other boomerangs in my bag at the time. I often use the Pro Fly when I am baffled by strange wind conditions or when I need a ~35-yard boomerang I am confident I can control, such as might be the case in a small park. It can be tuned fairly easily, and the high-visibility colors help keep my eyes focused on the boomerang instead of that distracting wisp of cloud. The polypro version is quite durable and has fared well in my bag. (In case you were wondering whether polypropylene plastic hurts less than plywood on impact, I would say they're the same.)

The Tri Fly, like its Pro Fly cousin, performs reliably and readily accepts tuning. I would guess the Tri Fly's range is slightly shorter, but not by much. Manny's Tri Fly is of the ABS variety and was flying circles around him in no time (well, once Charles had a look at it). Fortunately, for anyone without a "Charles" to aid them in learning to throw or tune the boomerang, there are instructions for both of those tasks embossed on the bottom side of both the Pro Fly and Tri Fly. But wait; there's more! The Pro Fly and Tri Fly also have a price that is hard to beat and easy to swallow: $6 to $8.

From phnxhawk's Boomerang Collection

From Manny's Rangs

Which one is better? For right-handed throwers, I think it comes down to a matter of personal style. As for myself, I simply have less experience throwing boomerangs with tri-blade planforms and have yet to really feel comfortable handling them, so I still tend to avoid them. Left-handed throwers, on the other hand, are locked in to the Tri Fly, which becomes a left-handed or right-handed 'rang with a few twists of the blades on a new model. I have not yet seen a left-handed Pro Fly, at any rate.

However, I would also add that my Pro Fly (polypropylene) needs a firm throw and a healthy dose of spin to get the return flights I like. I also expect that the ABS version would go slightly further and need more strength in the throw compared to the polypro version. So, if you feel that you need something that tolerates a weaker throw, the Spinracer or Mozzie might be good alternatives. (Manny also has a Tassie Devil, by Adam Carroll, that fits in the "entry-level" category...but that is a "work in progress" for him, so I have opted to omit it from my list for the moment.)

Based on the boomerangs I have tried (essentially, the ones in Manny's, Charles' and my bags), I have generally found modified V's, omegas and some tri-blade boomerangs to be relatively easy to learn to throw. I feel as if they tend to be very natural to handle and throw, but also forgiving to errors in the throw. They tend to slow down and hover at the end of the flight, which provides more time to set up for a catch or just to build up confidence in being around 'rangs in flight. I have found that boomerangs that come in fast instead tend to unnerve me. In terms of material, I would start with boomerangs made from plywood or plastic (polypropylene or, perhaps, ABS).

Of course, depending on the detailed design of the boomerang (size, weight, wing shaping, holes), some of the beginner-friendly qualities I have extolled above might be reduced or eliminated. So, do take care in applying the above generalization when shopping for an entry-level boomerang, and use the manufacturer's recommendations as a guide to making your selection.

My First Boomerangs

As I have mentioned previously, my first "legitimate" boomerangs were the Rainier and Phoenix by Colorado Boomerangs, which I acquired in spring of 2009. These are also the same boomerangs I used to hook Manny on this hobby while throwing on the same stretch of beach almost a year later. They were carved out of plywood and are terrific flyers. Although boomerangs fashioned from plastics and various types of composites seem to be in vogue now, Rainier and Phoenix continue to serve as my go-to 'rangs when I throw in the light morning winds at the beach and in spacious parks.

Safety Ninja

Once you get your new boomerang, remember to throw safely and responsibly. The last thing a thrower would want--well, among other things--is to be "kickbanned" from his or her favorite throwing spot. Keep a respectable distance between yourself and anything you would be concerned about hitting, such as glass windows that were just washed, children playing soccer and parked airplanes. Use the advertised range of the boomerang as a first order guide to a minimum distance to maintain. (Whenever throwing a new boomerang, I try to reserve even more open space than that.) Avoid throwing over and/or at people, and be aware that a boomerang skipping across the ground still hurts and will likely deviate from the nice, curved path you expected it to follow before it hit the ground. On a windy day, keep extra distance on the downwind side in case the wind carries it further than was anticipated.

In addition, unless you know what might happen if you do so, never throw a boomerang sidearm (i.e. boomerang parallel to the ground/painted side facing straight up). The boomerang will climb high into the sky and promptly plummet straight toward the ground. It might then slam right into the earth and might break the boomerang. It might instead pick up on the way down and careen toward the thrower at high speed. Either way, it is not a confidence-building experience (especially at night when your friend is using you as a human shield).

Where to Buy

The Pro Fly, Tri Fly, Spinracer and Mozzie are typically available from one of the following boomerang sellers:

Have a question to ask aLAcrity?

I hope you enjoyed this first edition of "Ask aLAcrity" and that you stay tuned for the next one. If you have a question about boomerangs, feel free to seek our input by e-mailing aLAcrity.boomerangs@gmail.com. We will most likely have have an answer--even if it is as simple as "I don't know." Some of those questions will be answered here on the blog, in addition to our replies by e-mail, to share our insights with other readers.

"Putting my spin on boomerangs..."