Tuning boomerangs is used to modify the way a boomerang performs or to increase its flight range. When you are changing the characteristics of your boomerang remember that SMALL modifications can produce HUGE changes in the performance. Remember that each time you make a change to your boomerang the flight can be significantly different. The easiest way to tune your boomerang so that it flies how you want it to, is to make one small modification at a time, then test throw your boomerang to see how the flight changes. If you need to make more adjustments repeat the process, always making one small change at a time. Tuning your boomerang is all about Trial-and Error. It takes a lot of practice and patience but eventually you will be able to make your boomerang fly almost exactly as you want it to.
There are generally three methods that are used to tune a boomerang: bending, twisting, and adding weights. Bending and twisting should only be performed if your boomerang is made of a flexible material. You should never try to bend or twist a wooden boomerang as they will break very easily if you try to modify their shape. Although Paxolin is a very flexible and relatively strong compound it does break if too much pressure is applied, especially in cold weather. Always be gentle when you bend or flex your boomerang and always keep in mind that a little goes a long way and you can always bend or twist your 'rang more.
To check to the original "Tune" of your boomerang, place it on a hard, flat surface with the decorated side facing up and gently press down on the elbow. If your boomerang lies completely flat or both arms are slightly pointing in the air, your boomerang has a "neutral tune."
Bending your Boomerang
When you bend the arms of your boomerang either up or downwards, you are adjusting the dihedral, which is the angle above or below the straight/neutral position. In general, bending the arms will modify the distance, hover, and trajectory of your boomerang. Remember even a few degrees in change will alter the flight of your boomerang significantly.
Bending up is generally recommended to increase the catch-ability in situations where there is no wind. By bending one or more of the arms of your boomerang up you are adding dihedral to the wings. This generally results in a higher trajectory, earlier lying down (shorter circle), and a longer hover. When you add dihedral to the lift arm the boomerang will tend to lie-down sooner in the flight and then zoom higher. This requires the thrower to alter the throw to a more vertical and higher release. You will get a higher and more circular flight with a nice hover at the end of the flight, making the boomerang easier to catch. Adding dihedral to the dingle arm (trailing arm) will result in a higher trajectory and a great hover, but at the expense of a lot of distance.
Bending down the arms of your boomerang is recommended for long distance, throwing in wind, or fast catch. Bending the arms of your boomerang downward will decrease the dihedral of the wings and will result in: a lower trajectory, a reduced hover, and lying down later in the flight, which produces more distance. By reducing the lie-down of the flight the boomerang will tend to fly in a figure-eight shape helping to increase distance. Since the boomerang is flying lower it is less effected by the wind, which combined with the reduced hover makes bending downwards a great tuning idea for windy conditions. It is suggested that the throw be adjusted accordingly by holding the boomerang with more tilt (flatter), throw lower, harder, and at times, more into the wind.
Twisting the Arms of your Boomerang
Twisting the arms of your boomerang, either clockwise or counter-clockwise, alters the angle of attack, which is the angle at which the leading-edge cuts through the oncoming air-flow. Twisting the arm counter-clockwise will add positive angle of attack to the wing, whereas twisting clockwise adds negative angle of attack. Tuning your boomerang by twisting is used to adjust: spin-rate and wind stability, distance, lie-down, and the type of trajectory. Twisting counter-clockwise (adding positive angle of attack) will reduce the rate at which the boomerang spins, making it more stable in the wind. Twisting counter-clockwise will also reduce or eliminate lie-down, greatly reducing the distance of the flight. In general, adding positive angle of attack (counter-clockwise) will create a lower, circular flight pattern. Adding negative angle of attack (twisting clockwise) will create an elliptical flight path, often with steeper ascents. As with bending, twisting your rang in either direction requires adjustments in how you throw your boomerang. After twisting counter-clockwise, it is recommended that the thrower throw the boomerang a little lower, with more tilt (flatter) and more into the wind. If you twist clockwise you should throw more vertically and less into the wind.
Modifying the Arms of your Boomerang
Adding weight to a boomerang is generally done to increase momentum, which results in a longer distance and greater wind stability. The easiest way to add weights to your boomerang is to tape coins, or small pieces of lead to the bottom of the wing(s). The following rules of thumb should be taken into consideration when trying to modify the weight of your boomerang:
- The closer to the tip of the arm the weight is placed, the greater the effect will be.
- Adding equal weight to each wing will result in a longer, slightly more elliptical trajectory. The throw should be adjusted by using more tilt and throwing more into the wind.
- Adding equal weight to each wing and a weight 1/3 as heavy to the elbow will keep the flight similar to the unweighted flight, but will increase the distance. The throw should be adjusted by using more tilt.
- Adding weight to the lead arm only will delay the lie-down, increase distance, and reduce or eliminate the hover. The throw should be adjusted by adding more tilt, throwing lower, and more into the wind.
- Adding weight to the dingle arm only will produce an earlier lie-down, reduce the distance, increase the hover, and result in a higher flight. The throw should be adjusted by throwing higher and holding the boomerang more vertical.