Do Loop Slings Really Help Your Standing Accuracy?

16115581248_cddde3bfa8_o

Among shooting positions, I think standing is the most fun. The challenge of hitting targets at long distance without support is something I find thrilling and calming all at once. It’s then interesting to see something of a new perspective at ArtOfTheRifle regarding my favorite shooting position, and the use of the sling with it:

The following groups were shot with my Noveske uppered Mega lowered AR that I’ve been using to experiment various things.  Since it’s still experimental, I call it the X-15.  It currently wears the SWFA SS 3-9×42 with the old school mildot reticle, my prototype RS-3 sling, and I’m using ball ammo equivalent for the following groups.

Standing without sling:

Dtanding

Standing with loop sling:

Loop Sling Standing

In case you were interested I also shot using the more target oriented position without the sling as well:

Target Standing

Using the sling places constraints on the form of the position.  Normally I have my elbow ‘out’ and my support hand well forward of the sling stud.  With a loop sling that really doesn’t work, so I had to approximate how I would have my arm in the prone position.  I also needed more stock in my shoulder pocket in order to handle the rearward tension, which placed the rifle lower.  Because the rifle was lower I needed to lower my head to it.

My arc of movement was large and uncontrollable.  The easiest way to convey what the position with the sling felt like was that it reminded me exactly what it felt like to shoot in standing when I was a brand new shooter.  I was contorted into an awkward, uncomfortable position with my neck craned and my head hanging down to find the sight.  Since I couldn’t control anything or keep the rifle on the target, I was pretty much just trying to jerk a shot as the sight swung by.  Horrible.

Now that he’s done me the favor of saying it first, I tend to agree. I quickly discarded the loop sling for shooting practice, as I considered it impractical and not terribly helpful. This isn’t to say I could have predicted Rifleslinger’s results; I would have predicted some improvement with the loop sling, not a degradation in accuracy.

Rifleslinger’s not content with tackling just the loop sling, though; he also takes on the hasty sling:

I believe that the hasty sling is a lot like the dark side of the force.  If Luke were asking Yoda about the hasty sling it might go something like this:

Luke: Is the hasty sling more precise?

Yoda: No. No. No.  Quicker.  Easier.  More seductive.

I tested the hasty sling twice with the X-15.  The first time I just did it without any practice.  After I spent some time figuring out how to explain it, I kind of liked the concept and decided to practice for a week in dry fire and then try it again.  I intended on also trying it with the FN, but the transition to that rifle was too abrupt and I wasn’t feeling it.  I decided not to waste my time or ammo on it that day.

Day 1:

Standing No Sling:

Dtanding

Standing Hasty Sling:

Hasty Sling Standing

Day 2:

Standing No Sling

Standing

Standing Hasty Sling

Standing Hasty Sling

On the second day I shot groups I felt like I started getting into a groove with the hasty sling.  It felt a lot like it used to, where I would take a breath, watch the sight rise, then exhale and watch the sight fall steadily back toward the target.  As it settled back in at the respiratory pause I pressed the trigger.  That happened after the first shots, which were those wild ones top and bottom.  Even then, the group is still worse than my group with no sling.

 

Not only that, but he examines the usefulness of the sling in prone, sitting, and kneeling, as well as its ease of use and effect on precision.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


Advertisement

  • Hokum

    Perhaps the exact reason why sportsmen don’t use slings either.

  • Cameron Bissell

    This is new to me. Could some of these results be explained by the use of an AR15 rather than a more “traditional” one piece stock and action secured to it?

    • Dracon1201

      Or just general lack of practice with the sling.

      • iksnilol

        Sounds like the guy doesn’t know how to use the sling. I will admit, I don’t use the sling much when firing in competition stance standing.

        • I highly doubt Rifleslinger doesn’t know how to use a sling.

  • spencer60

    Loop-slings are really meant for prone or kneeling. For me they always introduce another direction of movement in offhand.

    The hasty sling result surprises me, since this always seems to work better than offhand without a sling.

    Was the handguard free-floated? The HS groups seem to be stretched vertically.

  • sevenseas

    From the way the shooting position with the sling is being described, I would suggest attending a apple seed event. They give excellent instruction on sling use in standing, kneeling, and prone positions. Before attending one I had much the same opinion of loop and hasty sling usage, now I swear by the loop sling.

    • I suspect Rifleslinger has attended an Appleseed course or two.

      I have attended two Appleseed courses.

  • John Reynolds

    It would have never occurred to me to write about how I don’t know how to use a sling…
    I was half expecting a closing statement claiming a consensus of shooters agree.

    • The sling like, goes around your head, right?

      • Don Ward

        David used a sling when he killed Goliath. Check and Mate.

  • strongarm

    Using sling prevents natural motional behavior of the gun through its centre of gravity when fired and hitting results will be different than without.

    • iksnilol

      If used properly the gun isn’t supposed to move at all. The rifle should be held by your left hand and sling.

  • rollen

    I would like to challenge you Nathaniel. Take an Apple Seed course and post your first two targets on Saturday and you last two targets from Sunday. And then write another piece on sling usage and your results. I’m thinking you will come away with a different take.

    • I have taken the Appleseed course twice.

      These are not my findings, they are only Rifleslinger’s, and I suspect he’s taken an Appleseed course or two, as well.

      I dislike the loop sling because of the time it takes to use it.

  • E.D.M.

    Some of these comments are funny. Not that I expect people who know everything about the author if its not a blog they usually follow. The guy who runs the blog is an Appleseed instructor, and has little difficulty cleaning the AQT target. He is more than familiar with the use of loop slings, and even designs his own sling (he mentions his RS3 prototype, which is NOT a traditional constricting sling). Spend some time browsing the rest of the articles.

    • MattCFII

      ^ This! When it comes to old school rifle technique, his blog is almost on par with Jeff Cooper’s Art of the Rifle (and sure was part of the inspiration for it). Just got one of his RS1 slings for my quest for Rifleman this spring. If anything, since he has a financial interest in selling more slings, he would be the first guy supporting sling usage. The fact that he is saying they not be as useful as expected is very interesting and honest.

      Speaking of Cooper’s The Art of the Rifle, I think I remember that he specially said that the sling was of little use in one position, anybody know which one? I loaned out my copy and didn’t get it back.

      • MattCFII

        Here’s the Cooper quote: “The sling is not used from either the standing or offhand position. In my youth several coaches encouraged what was called the “hasty sling.” It never did anything for me, and it is geometrically unsound.” He also said that in order for a sling to be useful in his opinion the elbow needs to be supported.

  • Living Hand

    For what it’s worth: I’m an Appleseed Instructor.

    While we teach the use of hasty sling for the standing position – and I prefer its use myself – I have to say “to each his own”. I don’t believe that Rifleslinger nor Nathaniel need to be told how to use a loop or hasty sling. What’s happened here is that they simply agree that they have gotten better results without it.

    We see this even within the confines of Appleseed instructed positions as well. For example: Many people shoot better from a kneeling position rather than cross-legged, even though it is intrinsically less stable. Some cross-dominant shooters prefer to cover their dominant eye, and achieve greater precision with their dominant hand. And so on.

    What is probably most important is that we learn what typically works best – for everyone as a whole – and then move from there into what works best for each of us – as individuals. Results speak for themselves; and the tests that Rifleslinger posted will speak more to him than to you or to me.

    But if we have a suspicion – like he did – that a modification in technique would produce better personal results, then I do believe that individual testing is very wise indeed.

    • freebird

      I’m also an instructor. Appleseed helped my shooting tremendously, and the hasty sling produced a dramatic improvement when I first started using it. I will still teach it and believe it is a help to your average(not very good) shooter, but I’m moving away from it. It aids stability, which may be the most important thing a new shooter needs, but it adds tension which can hurt your results once you learn how to hold using mostly bone structure.

      The most important thing is hits on target. Whatever leads to more hits is what you should do.

      • BattleshipGrey

        Are you able to instruct using only text here? I’ve used the sling method as shown above and I didn’t notice any adverse effects, though I haven’t done a thorough comparison either. Since everyone praises the Appleseed shoots for learning how to use the sling, is there something different to explain, or is it just little nuances that have to be shown?

    • FWIW, Rifleslinger thinks the hasty sling doesn’t really help with standing either, but I do use it. So I think it may be a personal thing.

  • David_Theman

    There is no right gear or wrong gear IMHO.
    There is gear a person can use in line with their specific quirks and tendencies and gear that doesn’t really go well with that.

    Try it out and see what works for you and keep moving.

    • raz-0

      As a corollary to that, one should know and understand as many techniques as they can. It’s the only way to know what really does work for you.

  • Don Ward

    Do Loop Slings Really Help Your Standing Accuracy?

    Why yes they do help MY accuracy. Thanks for asking.

  • dan citizen

    Meh… I’ve seen enough old dogs shoot standing with a sling to know that it can be a great tool. One guy, appleseed or not, does not refute the knowledge of legions of veterans whose experiences dwarf his.

    The variables alone, such as having someone shooting at you, soft ground, and others have to be considered.

    One German range master I met had logged the results of hundreds of shooters per day for 5 decades, he would often adjust a shooters sling by 2 millimeters and dramatically improve a shooter’s performance. If this guy showed up with his 5 targets and claimed to have answered anything, they would have patted him on the head like a child.

    I’m not saying slings work for everyone, but there are 100 solid years of training and testing through two world wars that have to be addressed in any discussion of the proficient use of slings.

    I myself can’t shoot any better with a sling.

    Great article though. Anything Nathaniel F. writes, I feel lucky to read.

    • Gee whiz, Dan, that’s a helluva compliment. Thanks.

      I think it’s more personal than anything else. I don’t find loop slings very useful, but I use a hasty in standing.

      • dan citizen

        Everybody voices opinions (myself included) a few will cite some supporting data or anecdotes (I rely on anecdotes a lot).

        What you do is cite data, usually exhaustively researched data. You don’t winnow it for the points that support your point, you include it all.

        Your article on “battle rifles” went against my personal bias, yet was so well researched and written I have recommended it to many others.

        As well, your article on medium calibers was a fantastic read.

        Folks new to TFB should dig through past articles, there is some great stuff there.

        • I am humbled. Thank you for your kind words.

        • Out of curiosity, which article on medium calibers was that? I have written a few, both here and on my own blog.

          • dan citizen

            I tried to find it earlier and couldn’t as my interwebs are running poorly today. I believe it was on your blog. It was really math-heavy and dealt with case volume and some really neat ballistic calculations. It may have been, or contained, a response to some guy. You managed to lay out some very practical thresholds in ballistics for given cases, bore diameters, and velocities.

          • Could be one of three posts I’ve made. I generally link those three together, as they’re sort of a series.

          • dan citizen

            in my mind I may have jumbled together several articles

  • noguncontrol

    what about 1 point slings? and how does these loop slings affect speed.

  • You can also get any of Cooers books or videos from the Pro Shop at Gunsite.

  • Aaron E

    With an AR-15 type rifle I’m not much into using a sling in any of the shooting positions. However, when shooting my GA Precision Rock, weighing in at nearly 13 lbs. with Leupold Mark IV scope and 10-round loaded box magazine, using a sling for support is very beneficial in the standing position.
    That is, after much practice to learn how to “pull” the rifle into my body, control breathing, and use the skeletal structure to support the rifle.

  • ExRM

    Fantastic. Developing Skills takes time and exposure. Some things are experienced, evaluated and embraced. Others not so much. Thanks.