How to Shoot with Loop Sling – The Late Boy Scout

With the advent of red dots and inexpensive optics, I have heard from more than a few “old timers” that “marksmanship” is a dying trade. While I disagree, as it is just evolving (as the fundamentals are still the same), I do understand it personally.

When I first enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, iron sights was the chosen tool of the trade. Shooting on 1970’s M16-A2’s (we traced our serial numbers for the lowers), the weapons were still very much capable of reaching out and putting holes in bad-guys out past 500 meters. To do that, we had to master the use of loop slings.

New Marines are now taught far differently, using 3-point slings or often forgoing them completely, especially for “Table II” courses of fire. The use of the 4x ACOG on the rifles has given individual Marines an advantage with their weapons by being able to see their targets and “time” the shot a bit easier.

While one-point and and three-point slings are all the rage for modern tactical operations, the loop sling has served the shooter well. When used in the prone or sitting position, its ability to “lock-in” the shooter into a tight position is unmatched.

Just know when done right, you are basically putting on a tourniquet!

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • Lance

    The M-16A2 entered USMC service in 1983 so there are no 1970s era A2s only A1s where in USMC use in the 70s.

    • Gary Kirk

      Think he meant 1970s lowers, with the new trigger assembly, and upper.. I had an M16 A1 lowered rifle in basic in 06.. Was almost completely stripped of the anodized finish

  • me

    Was breathing pretty fast at the end there.

  • BillC

    “While one-point and and three-point slings are all the rage for modern tactical operations,”
    No, no they are not. Maybe 10 – 15 years ago, but not now. I don’t know of any rational person still using (active, former, or civilian) a 3 point sling (those piles of nylon garbage), and only a handful still using single points. People have realized the value of a quality 2 point, again.

  • Dan

    Drill Instructor: “Prepare loop sling”
    Marine Recruits: “Prepare loop sling, aye aye Sir”

    There are many memories of boot camp seared in to my brain. Losing the feeling in my arm, from a properly tought loop sling is definitely one of them.

    • iksnilol

      you… you aren’t supposed to lose your feeling. It kinda makes you less stable.

      • Gary Kirk

        You normally don’t on the range, but in boot the D.I.s would have you practice shooting positions for hours.. Real fun

      • john4637

        Also instructed to loosen and tighten sling periodically!!

  • Pete Sheppard

    It was in ’75 at Marine Corps OCS, where we were taught to sling up an M14…
    I remember that we were told to make a loop about a hand’s-width, and work that up the support arm, tightening if necessary, then shorten sling until the rifle had to be forced into the shoulder pocket with the shooting hand.

  • Bill

    It’s only tight enough when you can see your pulse in the front post.

    • eric_547687


    • iksnilol

      then you’ve messed up.

  • Gary Kirk

    Ok, finally got home and watched the video.. Wow.. I guess they got the premise down.. I do still use the loop sling with a few rifles, to some degree of success. Was trained by the good ole USMC. But Damn, if they were in contact, they’re dead.. And also, did anyone ever hit the target?

    Was not a good video to show the merits of using a loop sling for target shooting, and the “rifleman’s” cadence….. Know what he was trying to get across, but failed..

  • Gary Kirk

    Oh, and sadly.. Well, maybe not sadly.. I am guilty of the 3 point sling, optic, and no walnut abomination that plagues the corps to this day

  • Gary Kirk

    Sorry for crappy photo

  • nadnerbus

    This seems like a holdover from the days of the “pick them off at a thousand yards” fantasy. Complicated and awkward, and impractical for actual combat, though I’m sure it is effective as far as creating a stable shooting platform.

    Hasty sling is as crazy as I ever get.

  • eric_547687

    First off, you should never instruct somebody into an unfamiliar position with a loaded rifle.

    Second, this technique is best for getting accurate hits at the latter half of a rifle’s effective range (past 300 meters). Under heavy fire it would typically be too slow, but when you find your shots are not hitting the target, you had best find a way to get them there.

    Third, (for those that care to do things well) the Appleseed program does a much better job instructing nearly the same techniques and more.

    • MaddieF

      Appleseed, dollar for dollar, far exceeds most marksmanship training out there.

  • anonymouse

    This is the standard form of target shooting in the UK. Resting the rifle on the ground or using a rest is cheating. Typically you’d wear a shooting jacket that has an integrated sling built into the arm.

    A tourniquet is exactly what it is – you’re basically turning your left arm into a fixed (and numb!) post.