Yes, boomerang throwing is a sport, practiced world-wide. But how do you make a formal sport out of it? Here’s a quick summary of the main events that are held at boomerang tournaments.
First off, the field, where concentric circles are marked as shown. The darker lines are the particularly important ones — from the centre, these are:
- the “center circle” has a radius of two metres. This is where you throw from in most events.
- the various accuracy circles end at the circle with the ten metre radius. Landing in the centre circle is worth ten points; the next circle out is worth 8 points, and so through to 6, 4, and 2 points. If you land on a line, you get the average of the two surrounding circles — so stopping on the edge of the centre circle is worth 9 points.
- the twenty metre radius circle — in most events, a throw must reach out to this circle to be legal.
- the fifty metre radius circle — we’ll talk more about this one later.
While the events used have changed over the years, the “modern” boomerang tournament events are:
- Aussie Round
- Fast Catch
- Maximum Time Aloft (MTA)
- Trick Catch/Doubling
Let’s have a look at each of these in turn.
The oldest and simplest event of the boomerang sport — throw from the centre circle, to or past the twenty metre circle, and collect accuracy points depending on where the boomerang returns and lands. You are not allowed to touch or stop the boomerang when it returns — so if it flies directly over the centre circle but keeps going, tough luck! A perfect round is 50 points — five throws, each scoring ten points.
Aussie Round is often called “the king of events”, and rightly so. In Aussie Round, you get points for accuracy, distance and catching. A perfect throw would travel past the fifty metre circle (6 distance points) and be caught (4 catching points) in the centre circle (10 accuracy points). A perfect round (which has yet to be done in formal competition) would require you to do that throw 5 times, for a total of 100 points.
Accuracy points are the same as for the accuracy event, except that the location of your body may determine what points are awarded — if you’re clever, you can take that catch while jumping towards the centre circle and improve your accuracy points as the points will be given based on where you land… Alternately, you might stretch outwards to make the catch, keeping one foot as near to the centre as possible.
You are not allowed to juggle or knock around the boomerang at the end of its flight to get a better score, however — you get the lesser score of where the boomerang ends up, and where you first touched it.
Four points are awarded for a catch within the twenty metre circle; two points for a catch between the twenty and fifty metre circles, and none if you end up outside the fifty metre circle. As per the accuracy rules, if you catch it over either the twenty or fifty metre line, you get the average of the two areas (ie. 3 or 1 points).
Distance points are awarded only if you collected accuracy or catching points — you can’t just throw away your boomerang and expect points! You get 2 distance points if your throw reaches 30 metres, 4 points if your throw reaches forty metres, and 6 points if your throw reaches the fifty metre circle.
This is one of those events that is easier said than done. In theory, it’s simple: always throwing from the centre circle, make as many throws with catches as you can within five minutes. Ideally, you want a fast boomerang of just over twenty metres range that reliably returns to the centre circle — because once you start running, you’ll get tired and distracted, and probably make poorer throws, which means you’ll run more, which means you’ll get more tired, which means…
Similar to Endurance, but this time the goal is make five catches as quick as possible. Usually a time limit of one minute is applied, so your score might either show up in seconds (14.60 seconds) or in catches (3 catches within the minute). And that time of 14.60 seconds is the world record — taking away time for catching and throwing, that means the boomerang was averaging about 100 km/h through the air. Remember, you have to catch those missiles…
Many a person has failed by throwing a boomerang too fast for their catching skills, and been beaten by the other thrower with their slower but more reliable approach. Normally, two rounds of Fast Catch are held, so you may try to get an OK time in the first round, and then go all out in the second round.
Maximum Time Aloft (MTA)
And then we have the exact opposite to Fast Catch. In MTA, the idea is to keep a boomerang in the air as long as possible, and make the catch. Reasonable times in a tournament might start at 25 to 30 seconds, but can reach a minute or more!
There are several variants on MTA, but most commonly MTA-100 is used at tournaments. In this case, the throw and catch must be made within the 100 metre diameter field. As a boomerang in the air for a long time drifts with the wind, in higher winds the thrower may start at one end of the field and end up at the far end. MTA can be a very dramatic event, as one can make the perfect throw but still fumble the catch (not unusual when you’ve just run the best part of 100 metres while looking over your shoulder!), or the boomerang may drift out of the 100 metre field. Typically, five throws are allowed, with the best time counted.
Other variants are MTA-unlimited (where you can make the catch anywhere) or MTA-50 (where the throw must be made from the center circle).
In this event, points are awarded for a series of unusual catches. You start with a series of attempts at:
- Left hand catch (2 points)
- Right hand catch (2 points)
- Behind the back catch (3 points)
- Under the leg catch (3 points)
- Eagle catch (4 points)
- Hackey sack catch (6 points)
- Tunnel catch (6 points)
- One hand behind the back catch (7 points)
- One hand under the leg catch (7 points)
- Foot catch (10 points)
(An eagle catch is one where you make the catch with one hand, swooping down from above the boomerang. A hackey sack catch requires you to kick the boomerang up before catching it. A tunnel catch is a catch between the legs with both feet on the ground — one hand must pass between the legs. Foot catch is exactly what it sounds like!)
And that’s the easy part of this event! In the second part of this event, Doubling, you throw two boomerangs at the same time, and attempt to make the following pairs of catches:
- Behind the back catch & Under the leg catch
- Left hand catch & Hackey sack catch
- Right hand catch & Tunnel catch
- One hand behind the back catch & One hand under the leg catch
- Eagle catch & Foot catch
(You can take the two catches in any order, and if you drop the first boomerang, can try it a second time with the second boomerang. Doing the same catch twice, however, gets you no more points than doing it once.)
Quite a few throwers, remarkably enough, have managed to collect the full 100 points available in the Trick Catch/Doubling event.
More Boomerang Tournament Information
The larger circles are only needed for Aussie Round and MTA — so at a larger boomerang tournament you might find a number of sets of smaller circles, only going up to the 20 metres, to allow quicker progress through most of the events.
In a tournament, competitors receive points based on their ranking in each of the events, and the sum of ranking points determines the overall tournament winner.
To see the records for each of these events, head over to our boomerang competition records page.
There are a number of other events, for both individual and team tournaments (such as SuperCatch, where one team member throws an MTA, and then everyone else gets in as many Fast Catches throws and catches as they can while the MTA is in the air). To read more about some of these events, check out our boomerang glossary.