Dating as far back as 50,000 years ago, boomerangs are one of the oldest discoverable sporting tools in the world. The earliest known discovery of what are possibly pictures of boomerangs were found in the cave drawings of Australia. Several of the collections depict men with elongated objects and they appear to be lobbing them at animals in some type of hunting method. Of course, these tools seemed to be used solely as hunting tools, akin to a throwing spear of sorts. Interestingly, the popular concept of the boomerang that returns back to the thrower was not a part of its original function. On the contrary, there were supposedly hunters trying to adjust the trajectory of their throwing stick weapons to be straighter. Somewhere in the tuning process, they discovered that certain adjustments created a curvature that nearly sent their tools right back to them.
As I began researching the weird world that is boomerang tossing, I began to realize why it such an abstractly common thing. By “common,” what I mean is that if you show a boomerang to almost everyone, they’ll be able to identify the object. If you were to go further and ask what the purpose of the tool is they would respond something along the veins of that it is a throwing object meant to return back to the thrower. However, as I researched boomerangs, I couldn’t help but wonder why they’re such well known objects, when in reality they are purposeless in the modern world. Any hunter would opt for a gun, or any other more usefully designed weapon than the boomerang.
The purposelessness of the boomerang isn’t what astounds me as much as the fact that we haven’t invented some false sense of purpose for it. What I mean by is that in the modern world, it seems we’ve developed a sporting activity to test every type of physical skill that exists. From baseball to golf, all of these sports create their own system of points and victories to offer a sense of validity for an otherwise pointless skill. So as I researched the boomerang, I expected to find some type of scoring system for throwers, or perhaps a niche sport that crowned a victor amongst a team of boomerang throwers. As I searched, I was left dumbfounded at the lack of any type of organized sport surrounding the boomerang.
As I accepted the fact that perhaps boomerangs don’t coexist in the world of organized sporting, I began to search on the internet for other uses of the object. Eventually, I stumbled upon the YouTube video entitled “Extreme Boomerang Athlete: Daniel Bower”. For a moment, I thought I’d found the missing key in boomerang sporting. If an organized sport didn’t exist, then I thought perhaps throwers impressed each other with daring feats of “extreme” boomerang catching. As I watched the video, I’m not going to say I was disappointed, but rather that I was mildly disheartened at the lack of extremism the video’s title suggested. The video was fairly simple, featuring a young man throwing a boomerang and tossing it. I guess in some effort to capture the “extremism” the title promised, the video at random points went into either black & white or into sporadic spurts of slow motion. Now, I don’t mean to tear down the talent of Daniel Bower, as I’m sure he is an impressive boomerang thrower. After all, he did actually catch the return of the throws in the video. But as a typical video watcher with little prior knowledge of boomerang throwing, this video did not offer the extreme throws I was expecting.
So if boomerang throwing didn’t exist in the world of organized sports or in the world of extreme sporting, I couldn’t help but wonder where it did exist. In a final effort to figure out, I ended up ordering a boomerang off Amazon to try it out for myself. After 10 throws, the boomerang had barely curved at all on the return. After 100 rows, I consistently got it to move slightly backwards, but that might just be because I switched my direction to have the wind aid me. In an effort to improve my skill, I went on wikihow.com’s page about throwing boomerangs. There, I discovered that actually catching the boomerang is about as rare as a “hole in one” in golf to a pedestrian thrower like myself. For some reason, that one sentence cleared up a lot about boomerangs for me. The thing they are best known for, the returning curvature, is so insanely difficult that they can’t really exist in any other sphere other than the rarity of them actually serving their purpose.