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.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In the Spotlight: Mirage by Colorado

--by phnxhawk--

Boomerang: Mirage
Make: Colorado Boomerangs

The stretch of beach where Manny and I throw sometimes does not seem large enough. "How could this be?" one might wonder. After all, in some of our videos, it seems as if the sand goes on and on without an obstacle in sight. Well, on some occasions, I might be led to that sentiment by the loss of an errant boomerang to the briny depths. On other days, especially at the height of summer, it might be because vacationers have decided that the best, most quiet place to lie down and soak some rays is within range of my longer range, heavy-hitting boomerangs. On days like that, such as I had on a warm holiday weekend a few months back, a low-flying, shorter-range boomerang like the Mirage by Colorado Boomerangs can keep alive the hope that many happy returns can be had even when boxed into a smaller space.*

Overview & Physical Characteristics

From phnxhawk's Boomerang Collection

The Mirage, a sports 'rang from Colorado, has a planform resembling that of a hockey stick or an asymmetric Vee-type shape. In fact, when I first saw it, that hockey stick shape led me to mistake it for an MTA type of boomerang, as I had seen some similar-looking boomerangs with the more question-mark type of details at B Aggressive. Instead, the Mirage is a more sedate, beginner-intermediate level sport boomerang with a range up to about 35 yards. Carved from plywood, mine weighs in at 57 g, between my Rainier (53 g) and Eagle (62 g); so, it feels light in the hand.

Throwing & Flight

The Mirage is a delight to throw, especially on a day with just a light breeze blowing. With such a breeze and a fairly normal throw, I find the boomerang will consistently produce low, round flights. I have not had Manny spot the range for me, but I would say that it is comparable to the Rainier, which goes out to about 35 yards.

With a light breeze, I will typically throw the Mirage with a small amount of layover--10 or so degrees, perhaps--and at eye level. A "medium" strength throw, combined with a healthy amount of spin, complete the picture. With stronger winds, such as I had in the video above, I do find myself having to throw higher to keep the boomerang under control. Other than that, I have found it to be fairly ordinary to throw. To keep the flights level, I do have to be more mindful of the layover and release height, but it still tends to return even when I am a little more relaxed with regards to maintaining a level and vertical release.

The flights tend to be fairly level and round, with the boomerang returning to the hand without "putting on the brakes." This can make catches somewhat intimidating at first, since the spinning, returning boomerang takes on the appearance of an axe thrown at one's head. With the strength of my typical throw, that return speed is still manageable, providing ample opportunity to sandwich the boomerang between my hands for the catch.

I have found that I have been able to throw the Mirage comfortably in winds ranging between a calm to a light wind (say, 5 to 7 mph). Somewhere in the middle is the "sweet spot" in which I love to set up one low throw after another. When the winds are on the stronger side, I usually need to aim higher on the release to help keep the flights reasonably level and the return speed and height manageable. Those flights are still a lot of fun, but just aren't the flights that won my affection.


When I first decided to pick up the Mirage, I was lured by the promise of consistent, low and round flights. I was not disappointed. I did not find it to be especially difficult to learn to throw, and honing my technique to reliably obtain low and level flights was straightforward. I would not recommend it as an introductory boomerang to a first-time thrower, but it would make for a fun addition to the boomerang bag for novices with some experience throwing other 'rangs. The range is also short enough to keep it on my short list when I am trying to throw boomerangs in small parks. So, if low and round flights are your fancy, you may want to consider picking up the Mirage should you ever stumble across one for sale--at a reasonable price, of course!

"Putting my spin on boomerangs..."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ask aLAcrity #2: Boomerang Bags

--by phnxhawk--

Question: What type of bag do you use to carry boomerangs?

It is easy enough to grab a boomerang or two on one's way out the door and stuff one of the arms in a jacket or pants pocket. However, as with Pringles chips, "Once you pop, you can't stop." Almost overnight, two boomerangs give way to 20 more, and suddenly, one finds oneself in dire need of a travel bag in which to carry all those sticks.

Manny, Charles and I can generally expect to carry between 10 and 40 'rangs at any given time. We also need to leave enough space to carry water, snacks, pocket cameras and tripods, as well as various boomerang throwing and tuning supplies. These boomerang paraphernalia typically include: throwing gloves, wipe-down rag, wind direction indicator, rubber bands, tape, coins and various print-outs containing throwing or tuning tips. All this makes for a fair amount of bulk to haul around.

I suppose almost any bag would do for this task. When Manny and I stopped by the S.C.O.R.E. National Beach Boomerang tournament in Hermosa Beach in 2010, I saw that participants were sporting carrying cases of all kinds: plastic bags, briefcases, standard backpacks, messenger bags, laptop bags. If it could carry boomerangs, it was pressed into service.

As for Charles, Manny and me, each of us uses a variation of the messenger bag. I cannot think of any particularly compelling reason why we opted for the messenger type bag over other configurations. Messenger bags have been around for a while--for cyclists, for example. They tend to allow for easier access to the contents while the bag is shouldered. The most obvious reason one might spring for the messenger bag may be its aspect ratio. Messenger bags tend to be longer (side to side) than they are tall, so they might initially appear to be more convenient for placing typical two-arm boomerangs elbow- or tips-down in that type of bag. A standard backpack, on the other hand, tends to be taller than it is wide, which would appear to make sense for carrying 8.5 in x 11 in notebooks in typical upright orientation. Of course, a backpack would be quite capable of carrying boomerangs (in whatever orientation works best).

So, I guess it comes down to a matter of style. Messenger bags seem to have been in vogue in the last several years. I myself opted to buy one for general use after watching several seasons of 24 in which Jack Bauer used a messenger bag to haul around firearms, grenades, PDAs and kitchen sinks.

Manny: CalPak Goal

From Rang Messenger Bag

From Rang Messenger Bag

Manny seems to be pretty pleased with his purchase of this bag. It carries everything he needs and has been durable enough to haul boomerangs to and from our weekend throwing sessions without showing significant signs of wear. I think it is the smallest bag of the three of ours, and accordingly, he tends to carry fewer boomerangs than the rest of us.

Charles: Osprey Elroy

From aLAcrity Miscellaneous

From aLAcrity Miscellaneous

This bag is pretty rugged and spacious; in fact, I have sometimes wondered whether Charles bought the "bottomless" version from a space alien or a man from the future. I would guess that I have seen it carry up to 30 or 40 boomerangs in addition to boomeranging supplies and a water bottle or two. To facilitate carrying so many 'rangs, Charles also fashioned from a hunk of packing foam a boomerang holder compatible with typical two-arm booms:

From aLAcrity Miscellaneous

phnxhawk: Timbuk2 Classic

From Return 2 Thrower

From aLAcrity Miscellaneous

I use the Timbuk2 Classic, medium size, messenger bag. It is long enough to fit any of the boomerangs currently in my inventory. In terms of volume available, I would guess that it is comparable to the Elroy. I can fit about the same number of boomerangs in the bag in addition to my boomerang-related field supplies. However, the Elroy has more pockets, which can be good or bad, depending on the user. The Classic features one large, spacious main bay and a few thin zip-up pockets on the inside-front of the bag. The smaller pockets are adequate for smaller or thinner items, such as my gloves or a packet of rubber bands. Bulkier items, such as my tripod, camera and water bottles, sit on top of my boomerangs in the main bay. The lack of separate pockets for these different items can be an inconvenience, I admit, but it is a minor one for me; I seldom need to rapidly withdraw boomerangs from the bag, one after another in quick succession.

Timbuk2 also sells a "large" and "extra large" version of the Classic. These are slightly wider (front to back thickness), but are predominantly longer (side-to-side length). In other words, the larger size bags would not enable me to fit many more boomerangs back-to-back--certainly not enough to warrant the additional expense.

So, why should one pick a particular bag over another? Most types of bags would probably do the job ably; I would not say that there is a particular bag that I would extol as the must-have boomerang thrower's bag. So, common sense will generally be one's guide. It obviously has to carry anything one would typically want to have available for boomerang throwing sessions: boomerangs, gloves, tape, water bottles, snacks, medicine, first aid kits or whatever else would seem necessary. In addition, would the bag be used for other purposes (e.g. cycling or hiking)? Or does the bag have to provide other capabilities (e.g. fit in certain spaces, sturdy enough for impact resistance)?

Between the three bags we use, Manny's CalPak bag would be more than adequate for the thrower on the go. It is small, light and relatively inexpensive, but could carry field supplies and enough boomerangs for adequate variety. If the aim is to haul as many boomerangs as possible, either the Osprey Elroy or Timbuk2 Classic may be a better investment. The Elroy, with its extra pockets and rugged construction, may also do well doubling as a hiking or as a commuter bag while the Classic is typically marketed as a cyclist's messenger bag. Even between these bags, I find that there is no clear winner.

So, my best advice is: take stock of what you need and want in a boomerang bag as well as how much you are willing to spend, and just make a call. Almost any bag will ably do the job of carrying boomerangs, so in many ways, you can't go wrong.

"Putting my spin on boomerangs..."

Friday, September 9, 2011

First Look: Fuji by Kendall Davis

--by phnxhawk--

Boomerang: Fuji
Manufacturer: Kendall Davis

Late last year, I ordered an Ohm from Kendall Davis. To my surprise, when I opened the box, I found not only the expected boomerang, but also a stowaway. As I found out shortly thereafter, Kendall had included a copy of his Fuji design for me to test. Over the course of the spring and summer, I became better acquainted with this neat boomerang, and although I would not claim to know it intimately, I think I have come to know it well enough to say that I like how it flies.

Overview and Physical Characteristics

The Fuji is one of Kendall Davis' prototype designs, named after the eponymous mountain in Japan. It has a modified, shallow Vee planform, as shown below.

From phnxhawk's Boomerang Collection

From phnxhawk's Boomerang Collection

This version was carved from plywood. By my measure, the thickness for this version was 5 mm. (However, I was foolish enough to buy calipers that need batteries, of which I currently have no spares. So, I am counting on my eyes not to fool me as I hold my ruler up to the boomerang.) My Fuji weighs in at 59 g. For those of you who might be curious how my other Kendall Davis boomerang compares in this regard, my 6 mm Ohm weighs 78 g.

This Fuji also came with the bright and glossy kind of paint scheme that I have seen on Charles' and Larry's Kendall Davis 'rangs. Owing in part to its bright orange color, I have found Fuji easy to track in flight; the paint has also held up well in the nine or so months it has spent crammed in my boomerang bag.

The Throw & Flight

I have generally found the Fuji to be relaxing to throw. It tends to need a firm throw (compared to other boomerangs I might use in the same wind conditions). However, it is also forgiving; I have not gotten the feeling that I need to work hard to throw in a particular way to coax it to return in a satisfactory fashion.

The throw itself has not presented any surprises--which is a good thing, in this case. I usually throw Fuji like I would my typical sports boomerangs: with a small amount of layover, some "oomph" and plenty of spin, aiming at eye level or a few degrees above. Charles and I did find that it tends to need a firmer throw, compared to similar boomerangs we would use in the same wind conditions.

Alternatively, I suppose one could say that I could use it in a slightly stronger wind to let the air help carry it back to me with a weaker throw. Indeed, Kendall had scribbled, "For Wind," on the back side of the boomerang. In terms of wind resistance, I generally feel comfortable throwing Fuji in "light breezes" to "medium wind," which I would say goes up to about 8 mph.

The flights are essentially what I would expect from this type of boomerang configuration. They tend to be fairly round, going out to about 35 yards in range. With my current style of throwing it, Fuji tends to start low and climb gradually through the pattern. In the future, I might experiment with tuning my throw and/or the boomerang to keep the flights a little more level, but it is currently quite enjoyable as is. The returns tend to be gentle, as it descends slowly and into the hands for the catch. I never felt the nagging fear that I needed to keep the gloves on while throwing it.


To sum up, I definitely give the Fuji a thumbs-up. Kendall indicated that he could see a variation on this design becoming a great novice-level boomerang, and I am inclined to agree. Its flight behavior is benign and predictable--compliments both, rather than indications of a blasé reaction. It has also presented no special challenges in the throw to obtain an enjoyable return. However, this version does need a firm throw (or a slightly stronger breeze). So, that quality does lead me to rate this version as somewhere between "entry level" and "intermediate." I suppose that would be something akin to "entry level, with prior experience preferred."

Kendall has suggested that a 4 mm version of this boomerang might bring it closer to his vision of it as a beginner 'rang. If we at aLAcrity get a chance to test it out, we will be sure to write an update to this first look at the Fuji by Kendall Davis.

"Putting my spin on boomerangs..."