Boomerang, a curved throwing stick. The word “boomerang" originated in Australia, where it was used to describe the wooden throwing weapons Australian Aborigines used for hunting and warfare. These earliest boomerangs, which date back at least 10,000 years, were thick and heavy, and could be thrown up to 200 yards (180 m). Eventually the Aborigines developed a type of boomerang (called a return boomerang) that would return to the thrower. The return boomerang may originally have been designed for hunting small game, but it came to be used exclusively for sport. Return boomerang throwing is popular in many countries today.

A typical return boomerang measures approximately 15 to 18 inches (38 to 46 cm) from tip to tip and has two blades that meet at an angle of 70 to 110. Boomerangs are usually made out of solid wood, plywood, or plastic. When thrown correctly, the boomerang starts out spinning vertically, turns on its side, makes a wide semicircle, and returns to land near the spot from which it was released. Boomerangs can fly as far as 300 feet (90 m) and as high as 50 feet (15 m) before returning.

Many boomerang competitions are held in the United States and Australia. Contestants are judged in events in which distance, accuracy, and time in the air are measured.

Apparently the Australian Aborigines were the only people to develop the return boomerang, but other peoples have used throwing sticks. Such weapons were used by the ancient Egyptians and Assyrians, and in modern times by some African tribes and by the Hopi Indians of Arizona.