Hasty Sling- How Does it Work, if at all?

The most common method of using a sling to steady the rifle is the loop sling.  Although it’s the most common and probably the best, it’s not the only game in town.  The next most common method is known as the hasty sling.

Description

The hasty sling uses the full length of the sling from swivel to swivel.  The arm is simply thrust through the support side, the hand wraps itself by taking an outboard turn, and the rifle is shouldered.  The sling should pass snugly across the chest, say midway between the collarbones and nipples.  There should be a feeling that the back of the support arm pushes downward into the sling creating tension, and that the weight of the ‘system’ rests on the support side pectoral.  The overall length adjustment of the sling needs to be set so the tension of the sling will support the rifle.

In the following photos I used a model of my RS-2 sling that I made specifically to illustrate different aspects of sling use.  The color of the loop portion (front of the sling) is foliage colored and the rear portion of the sling is tan.  I apologize for the quality of the photos.  My photographer for this session was 8 years old, so you can blame this guy:

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We took him back to double the distance on the same target as compared to last time, and I convinced him to try out the X-15.  He nailed a 6 oz. water bottle from kneeling on the first shot at about 20 yards.

 

Unlike the loop sling, which is pretty simple to look at and figure out, the hasty sling takes a bit of investigation to understand the function.  It seems clear that the sling across the chest is an important part of the equation, and that perhaps the weight of the rifle at the forend is somehow cantilevered to be supported by the chest, but it makes no sense that a piece of material under the rifle support its weight.

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I’m not shooting up, and the slope of the scenery is not actually uphill.  The camera is canted.

What seems to actually be the case is that the sling offers tension to the position front and rear, somewhat like the loop sling.  Unlike the loop sling, which offers very simple and direct support by taking the place of the support arm muscles, the hasty sling offers an indirect support.  It’s kind of ingenious, but the hasty simply offers a place to set the support hand arm, in lieu of setting the arm against the ribs or against the chest.

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The weight of the rifle goes straight down the forearm and into the small section of sling just behind the triceps.  All that is supported by the tension of the sling against the chest nearest the support side (in my case the left side).

 

The portion of the sling just forward of the chest supports the support arm.  The support forearm is vertical or nearly so, which means it really doesn’t have to work to bear any of the weight.  Likewise, the support hand really doesn’t have to do anything because of the straight line vertical forces pushing right down into the sling.  The weight goes into the support side of the chest.

Perceived Effectiveness 

I used the hasty sling extensively in standing from about 2009 to 2011 or so.  About the time I started the blog in the summer of 2011 and started testing methods against each other I noticed in dry fire that my arc of movement was slightly smaller with the sling overall with the sling, but that it was not controllable at all.  Without the sling the overall movement was larger, but much slower, and I could control it enough to pause it for a moment. It’s the difference of having a guaranteed 12 to 14 MOA arc with the sling versus learning to stall the movement for long enough to break a shot.  I’m currently shooting groups in the 5 to 7 MOA range without a sling, and I think I’ve still got some room to shrink.

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.

For that reason I think that the hasty sling is attractive to new shooters because it offers a really quick shortcut to a decent level of mediocrity without having to really figure out what makes the standing position work, kind of like force choking people instead of waving the hand and saying, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”  In one set of groups a beginner can get from a group that essentially not measureable without the sling to a 12 to 16 MOA group with the sling, which is probably good enough to get a passable score in the standing position on the AQT.  The problem is that I don’t think it gets much better from there.  It’s kind of like if you’re on the California trail in the 1800’s and some guy named Hastings tells you about this really cool shortcut, and before you know it you’re stuck in the Sierra Nevadas in the worst winter on record EVER, and you’re eating human flesh to survive.  You finally look down at your name tag and it says “Donner”.  Crap.  Probably should have just stayed on the regular trail.

Measured Effectiveness

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.

As with the loop sling, the hasty sling slows the shooter down by forcing a more finite natural point of aim, and of course the time it takes to loop up.  So the normal position is much quicker, easier, and more practical in addition to being, for me at least, much more precise.  If more precision is needed, the target standing position without the sling is typically about a full minute more precise for me than the practical position.

To sum up: The hasty sling.  Learn it.  Love it.  Leave it.

Or just skip it altogether.

Feel free to prove me wrong by emailing me photos of your own groups.  The control group and the experimental group should be shot on the same day, close to the same time, under the same conditions, with the same equipment (with the exception of the sling, of course).

4 thoughts on “Hasty Sling- How Does it Work, if at all?

  1. ……Luke: Is the hasty sling more precise?

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

    Wow! That made my day, and it’s totally true. Since I work from home now I have replaced water cooler talk with dry firing in the hallway. I noticed the same thing that you did in standing in a hasty sling, I had smaller MOA movement – but faster. I have spent a few weeks working on good technique without the sling and my movement is now reduced frequency (speed) and amplitude (MOA movement). Keep in mind, that I’m just dry firing, so I have no groups to prove this, but over the course of a few weeks I am able to hold much better and call my “shots”.

    Keep up the good work Rifleslinger!

    • I think it would have make for more excitement if you had dry fired at the water cooler.

      Interesting you had similar results. I’m expecting that someone will prove me wrong eventually.

      Thanks.

  2. That is a very good write up and I think you’re really on to something about the sling limiting your NPOA. I’ve never considered that before but it makes alot of sense. You trade arc size for overall speed within the arc since you’ve introduced tension into the system.

    I think thay within that arc size/ arx speed dynamic lies the true benefit of the technique and its an easy one to miss on the square range.

    The key be benefits of the hasty sling is its ability to shrink your arc size WHILE UNDER PHYSICAL STRESS AND PRESSURE.

    You may be able to use the slower reticle tracking speed with good results when your heart rate is low and you are on a flat piece of ground and your leg muscles aren’t contorted to adapt to a funky piece of cover or a break in vegetation that places your body in a funny shape. But I’ve found great benefit to using the hasty sling during “urban rifle classes”.

    At ITTS Scotty Reitz spends a decent amount of time on this and his point is that you may have to sprint to a position and you get a very small amount of time to evaluate a complicated situation and solve it with a small number of shots (maybe one). Being able to run up to a position (after 10 min of highly physical problem solving) and sling up and take your shot quickly and them get out of it quickly is a big deal.

    In that kind of a context group size may not be the best metric to evaluate the technique. Time to acceptable hit (which is context specific) and total time spent getting into and out of position in varying terrain seems a better metric to evaluate what is, at its heart, an improvised field position. It should be tested in the field and under field conditions (whatever your field happens to look like).

    I have all my M4’s set up with 2 point vtac slings with the QD points at the extreme front and back of the rifle specifically so that I can benefit from the cross body sling and use it as a hasty sling.

    In the context of a regular guy who may go months without shooting having the quick ability to shrink up group sizes under pressure isn’t something I would want to give up even though “better options” technically exist, they don’t practically exist in the tactical rifle world when you take all the other gear into account and how it works together and all the other things you need to be able to do with the gun (like carry it ALL day, get in and out of cars, etc)

    It’s easy to take a technique and pull it out of its contextual role and pass judgment on it. But you loose alot of perspective when you do that.

    I know this isn’t the “group size” proof you’re looking for but that may be asking the cement truck to race the Ferrari and judging the results on time alone

    I really enjoy your blog

    Keep up the great work

    Donnie

    • Donnie,

      I’m with you on the distinction between square range stuff and stressful application, and on the use of hit rate vs group size as an appropriate metric for practical shooting. I don’t think I can address all of the possibilities within the scope of a single article, and that was not my intent. Actually, what I did with the hasty sling in this article goes against what I think is the crux of exactly what the standing position is useful for, which is as an emergency position. Since standing is the least precise of all the shooting positions, it makes sense that if an opportunity existed to use a better one we would do it. I see the type of work I did in this article to be useful on the square range for groups, in informal competition where the sling might be allowed, or in those exceptional situations in which terrain, and not time, dictates the use of the standing position. Personally I was probably looking into this because I want to score a 250 on the Appleseed AQT. Also, around December I came to the conclusion that as a practical sequence of training, it makes sense to tackle accuracy first before progressing to application (not the way I got where I am).

      When standing is used under pressure, I agree with you that speed is up there with accuracy as a priority. There are others, such as mobility, flexibility of position to account for moving or multiple targets, recoil control, likely more that aren’t on the tip of my typing fingers at the moment. Under those conditions the second it takes to sling up in hasty with a conventional sling may be too much (it also may not- can’t see the future to say for sure).

      As for the cross body sling, I think a distinction needs to be made from the hasty sling, as it has a completely different set of advantages and disadvantages. The cross body carry sling works in a completely different manner for use as a shooting aid. It’s faster to use and I have experienced that it does keep me on a static target for quicker follow up shots beyond, say, 25 yards or so. My accuracy was decent, although in recent shooting I was not able to match my group size without the sling. In kneeling, the cross body sling works more like a traditional loop sling, albeit with a different attachment point, and I actually saw better results than with a traditional loop.

      Whether or not a traditional hasty sling keeps one on the target better under stress is something I haven’t measured, and I don’t see people doing work like that. I have found that there are often differences between my impressions and what I can measure, so I’m getting careful jumping to those assumptions. For the moment I’m sick of measuring things, which is why I took a break.

      I also have to admit the obvious, that the work on this blog is a study of n = 1, and it may not apply to most.

      This is a discussion worth fleshing out a bit better, but I have to sign off for now.

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