Looking for a way to improve your rifle shooting? Searching for methods to shoot a bit more accurately?
Methods that are practical and simple?
Well, you have come to the right place. We are going to be looking at one simple accessory every rifle should have, and how it can help you be a better shot.
That awesome accessory? A simple rifle sling.
Using a sling, a good quality sling, can really improve your stability when shooting…which is especially important if you want to get started with competition shooting.
Read on to see just how much using a sling the right way can improve your ability as a shooter.
My Experience with Rifle Slings
A real sling, designed for your rifle and properly fitted, can be an invaluable tool to improve your accuracy by improving your overall stability. I learned most of these techniques through my time in the United States Marine Corps.
In the Marine Corps, using slings as a stabilizing platform is taught at the beginning of boot camp to new recruits. Marines are required to qualify on the rifle range every year, and these techniques are utilized to help Marines on the table 1 course of fire.
The Table 1 course of fire takes place at 200, 300, and 500 yards and involves both slow in rapid fire in sitting, standing, kneeling and prone positions. In every position but the prone Marines utilize these techniques to ensure they qualify and hopefully take home an expert badge.
Sling Versus Carry Strap
Before we get into the how portion we need to determine if you are using a sling or a carrying strap.
Do you have a sling or do you have a carrying strap? The terms are not interchangeable and there are major differences between a carrying strap and a sling. A sling is the superior choice between the two.
This may leave you wondering…what the hell is the difference?
Good question, a carrying strap is a tool designed to do nothing more than allow you to carry your weapon. Most often it’s designed to carry a rifle over the shoulder as you move through the field and that is about it.
A carrying strap is an okay tool for plinkers, and even some casual hunting shotguns.
Plinkers are casual weapons with no significant or serious use. A hunting shotgun is a weapon that’s likely to be in the hands 99% of the time just out of pure convenience. It can be carried via strap when navigating obstacles and then returned to the hand..
By design carry straps are often much less complicated than rifle slings. They are simpler and always cheaper. In a lot of ways they are kind of like those cheap nylon pistols holsters. Sure, it’ll carry your gun, but it won’t be the best way to carry a gun.
Advantages of a Sling over a Strap
A sling is designed to aid in carrying the weapon, retaining the weapons, and even firing it accurately. A sling attaches the weapon to your body, and keeps it there.
The slings retention abilities comes from the way it can be used and worn.
Slings are most often worn across the body, and rarely over the shoulder for an extended period of time. When wrapped around the body the sling keeps the weapon positioned in an easy to use manner. With a sling the weapon can be fired while ‘slung’.
A sling can also be used to improve the overall accuracy of your rifle by improving its stability. This is a technique based tool.
This doesn’t increase your rifle’s accuracy the same way a stainless steel barrel would…its not an instant improvement.
Instead this technique needs to be practiced and mastered.
Many people think these methods seem somewhat odd and uncomfortable upon first use. This is certainly true, and it’s really something you have to work your way into. Once mastered though you’ll be able to stabilize your weapon in a wide variety of positions.
Sling Techniques to Improve Accuracy
These techniques, once mastered, will allow you to improve your long-range shooting by providing you with a more stable shooting platform. This is especially important for taking off-hand shots without a bench rest or shooting stick available.
Deliberate Loop Sling
The deliberate loop sling is designed to to help maximize sling based tension and support. As the name implies, you utilize a loop that slides over your support arm. You create the loop in the rear area of your sling.
Different methods are used for different slings to create the loop but it’s usually done by maximizing the slings ability to tighten. You tighten the sling at the rear adjustment point as much as possible and utilize the slack to form the loop.
When utilizing the deliberate loop sling you’ll disconnect the rear of the sling from the rifle, and leave the forward end attached to the weapon. You’ll slide the sling up your support arm as high as possible.
You tighten the sling down to the point where the tension will not allow the rifle to move. This will form a stable platform for off hand shooting.
Just remember not to tighten the sling so much that it cuts off blood flow.
The Sniper Sling utilizes a very similar methodology as the deliberate loop sling. The deliberate loop sling is designed more or less for semi automatic rifles. The Sniper sling is designed to provide the same form of stability, but aimed at the prone position, though it can also be used while standing up.
The loop goes up onto the firing arm and is tightened in the same method. This allows the shooter to really tuck their elbows in, and assume a stable prone position. The deliberate loop makes a low prone position somewhat difficult.
The Sniper is also faster to move into if the sling is already set up as a loop sling. Overall the sling can be looser, and makes transitioning from carrying to shooting easier. In my opinion the deliberate loop sling is slightly more stable.
The sniper sling is faster to use, and better in prone positions.
The Hasty sling is probably the easiest to utilize with two point slings. With the rifle shoulder and sling hanging below it you want to slip your through the sling. Push the sling until it is behind your tricep and held there by your bent elbow.
Wrap the support hand the sling and grip the rifle. This ensures simple and easy transitions. The hasty position is the fastest and easiest method to utilize a sling as a stable firing point. This one is perfect for hunters in the field due to how fast and easy you can assume the position.
The hasty sling position can be assumed in almost any situation and position. The tension created helps you hold the rifle in position and allows you to really take your time to make your shot.
This method is handy because it can be done with nearly any sling you can tighten, and doesn’t involve any fancy loops.
Single Point Sling
We’ve talked quite a bit about rifle slings and how they improve rifle shooting. Another sling that help with pistol shooting is the single point sling. Not all pistols of course, but the popular AK and AR 15 pistols can directly benefit for a single point sling.
Without a stock you’ll need as much help stabilizing the weapon as possible. A single point sling can make firing these somewhat obnoxious and unwieldy pistols a bit easier. The sling strapped to the gun and strapped to you you extend it outwards as much as possible.
You may need to tighten your single point beforehand but likely it’s the right length to work. With the system fully extended and the pistol gripped properly you’ll create natural tension. This tension lets you better stabilize the weapon for firing.
The first widespread use of this method was during a hostage crisis in the U.K. In this situation members of the SAS armed with MP5s stormed an embassy utilizing basically this method. (Although they had stocks and 3 point slings.)
That extra tension makes a major difference when firing an unstocked weapon. It allows you to extend your weapon outwards and utilize sights or optics much easier.
Getting Tactical with Slings
Outside of the methods above a tactical rifle or shotgun should have some form of sling. A sling is designed to provide support to the shooter in a variety of situations. One of these situations is firing around cover.
Firing around extreme angles makes a sling an absolute necessity. Anyone who’s ever worked a Viking Tactical barrier training tool knows that a sling is invaluable. Anyone who’s ever been in combat knows you don’t always get the perfect combination of cover and a stable shooting platform.
The little bit of weight and stabilization a sling adds to a rifle is critical in a gunfight. Learning to utilize your sling for a little extra stability and a little extra tension is an important skill to learn. Without a sling you are simply making life harder.
When to Use these Techniques
These accuracy-improving techniques are handy in a variety of different situations, but due to their limitations they can’t be used in every situation. These techniques are best used for taking long shots off hand.
These techniques are especially handy for hunting, particularly stalking game you want to take from a distance. They allow you find a stable position regardless of your surroundings. In some situations you simply can’t drop into the prone to take your shot.
These techniques are also handy during formal rifle competitions, or informal gatherings of friendly shooters. They can give you a slight edge, until your friends start copying you of course.
Some of these techniques can be used in a tactical sense, but it largely depends on the situation and the technique being used. These techniques are generally better suited for permissive environments than tactical ones.
The Best Slings for the Job
You’ll find that some techniques are easier to use with certain slings. This is usually do to a variety of different lengths and materials. A lot of old school military and web slings work super well with this technique.
Blue Force Vickers Sling ($45.00)
A lot of people don’t think modern tactical slings won’t work with these methods. While some don’t, quite a few do. In fact the Blue Force Vicker’s Sling ($45.00) is oddly suited for these different techniques.
Due to how easy it is to adjust and how many adjustment points there are, it’s easy to fit for different techniques.
Before I left the Marine Corps the Magpul MS1 ($30.00) was becoming insanely popular on the Table 1 range due to just how adjustable it is. While I don’t have personal experience (Blue Force Gear for life!) a lot of my fellow Marines preferred it over the standard web sling.
Levy’s Leather Military Sling ($34.68)
On my standard plain Jane AR I am using Levy’s Leather military sling ($34.68). Levy’s is really well known for their guitar straps, but if you want a classic leather sling they make some awesome options. This military sling comes with a leather loops that makes creating a loop sling very simple.
If you want to know a little more about slings, check out our handy little sling buyer’s guide.
Never Go Slingless
Slings are an invaluable tool for hunters, shooters, and police officers and soldier. They provide stability, weapons retention, and open up new possibilities of shooting accurately. Never go without a sling if it can be helped, and always go with a quality sling.
We’d love to know your thoughts, your favorite slings, and what techniques you utilize you shoot a little straighter. Give us a shout in the comments below!