How do boomerangs work? In this Ask Smithsonian video, Dr. Eric Schulze explains how boomerangs work. (Smithsonian/Thinkstock)
How do boomerangs work?

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You asked us, "How do boomerangs work?"
There are actually two types of boomerangs. One flies in a circular path and can knock you out cold. And the other is the non-returning boomerang.
Both have at least two wings that meet at an angle.
When thrown, the bent shape causes the 'rangs' to spin around a central point. That stabilizes their motion. It allows them to travel farther and with greater accuracy than a straight stick.
That's exactly what makes the non-returning boomerang a deadly hunting weapon.
They've been used in Australia, ancient Egypt and even Poland. The earliest ones date back more than 20 thousand years.
But coming back around to your question, how does the returning boomerang return?
Well, its wings are slightly rotated and have an airfoil design. This generates twist, creating a curved flight path and sending that puppy home.
The returning boomerang is actually harder to throw on target. So it's been used more for fun than hunting.
Fun must have been what those ancient Egyptians had in mind when they stored a few in King Tut's tomb.

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How does the bent shape help the boomerang move?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • kenzij.-her
    8/19/2015 - 09:24 a.m.

    i wanta boomarang

  • izzya-hol
    8/24/2015 - 01:53 p.m.

    Why did they use boomerangs back then as weapons? The non returning is a weapon for hunting. The returning boomerang is used for fun. they stored some in King Tuts tomb. I think that the boomerang is made more for fun what do you think?

  • annabel1226-yyca
    8/24/2015 - 08:35 p.m.

    I think it will be cool to throw the boomerang. I wonder how the Native American learned. But, how is the boomerang sharp it is made out of woods. I hope I get a chance to throw the boomerang.

  • Jason0421-YYCA
    8/24/2015 - 10:03 p.m.

    I believe that boomerangs that can return back to you are more interesting then just normal boomerangs that don't return. I think that boomerangs are amazing since most objects don't come back to you. I think that boomerangs are one of a kind since not only is it better at accuracy, but it also has further distance then regular objects you can throw.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    8/24/2015 - 10:42 p.m.

    I didn't think that there are actually two types of boomerangs which are the one that can knock someone out cold while the other one is a non-returning boomerang which may be a deadly weapon because if a boomerang is coming towards a person, then the person will think how can this boomerang fly out so far from like Poland to California.The boomerang could fly non-stop but it will not return to the person who threw the boomerang from where they are one their own home town to like China or New York or any other places that is far away.

  • isiahn.-1-her
    8/25/2015 - 09:19 a.m.

    i think this article is awsome i learned how a boomerang returns.

  • burket-hol
    8/26/2015 - 08:26 p.m.

    It's fasciniting to know that there are 2 types of boomerangs. If I ever go hunting, I can use the boomerang that has more accuracy as weapon. If I want to have fun, I can use the boomerang that comes back to you. Unfortunately, neither type of boomerang is common in the USA. I don't have one. Neither do any of my friends. However, I look forward to getting one someday.

  • milesj-nar
    8/27/2015 - 02:25 p.m.

    That's pretty cool how one is for hunting and the other ones for fun.

  • milesj-nar
    8/27/2015 - 02:26 p.m.

    I think it's pretty cool how one type of boomerang is for killing and the other one is for fun

  • macil-nar
    8/27/2015 - 02:28 p.m.

    I thought that this article was interesting because it can go strainer and farther than a straight stick.

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