This beautiful boomerang is a left handed, strip laminated standard hook made out of elm hardwood strips. Elm was one of Al's favorite woods because these were among his best flyers. This hook has a full weight in each tip and a half weight in the elbow. This hook is number 333 and it is signed and dated July 1979. A few of Al's tuning and performance notes can still be seen on the underside. This hook was made for Peter Ruhf and it was part of Peter's throwkit for more than 30 years. Peter says that this boomerang is a wonderful flyer with a flight range of 90-110 yards. There is some wear and minor edge dings (sanded smooth) as expected. There are signs of elbow delamination through the half weight and another delamination through the weight on the lift arm tip. The delaminations are repaired with epoxy and sanded smooth. Peter used it with these repairs. It looks strong enough to throw, but you would need to be careful and it would be better to just keep this one as a collectable. This is a wonderful collectable with a fine pedigree.
Al Gerhards is one of America's most famous pioneers in the development of long distance boomerangs. Al was an active thrower, manufacturer and competitor in the 1970s and early 1980s. His most popular model is the Standard Weighted Hook which was made out of strip laminated hardwoods. The standard hook was occasionally made without weights, but the majority of these hook boomerangs had a single lead weight on each tip with a unique serial number stamped in the weight near the lift arm tip. The earliest examples (1970s) had an additional half weight inserted into the underside of the elbow. This was discontinued on hooks made in the early 1980s because the elbow weight was often the source for the initiation of strip delaminations. Al also made strip laminated large hooks, small hooks, omegas, traditionals and the awesome Big "U"s. The large hooks were sometimes called "White Lightning" hooks and Al used one of these to set a World Record in the long distance event with a documented throw of more than 125 yards in the late 1970s. Only 500 standard weighted hooks with numbers were made. The last one has a silver star inlayed in the dingle arm tip and this one is displayed in Al's living room in a specially made holder that also displays his world record "White Lightning" hook.
I visited with Al Gerhards in early 2006 and asked him about the integrity of his boomerangs after 25-30 years. Al assured me that he used strong epoxy glues and that he still throws boomerangs that he made 30+ years ago without any problems. Al recommends that the owners of his boomerangs rub the surface with Tung oil or Gun oil prior to throwing if it has been in storage. The boomerang should be oiled at least once every 3 months if it is thrown regularly. However, I discourage the throwing of old collectable boomerangs unless it is thrown under very carefully controlled conditions. I would prefer that the owner make a copy of this boomerang for his own use and save the original as a fine collectable.