How to Use the Sling, Part 1: The Shooting Sling to Arm Connection

Now that everyone reading this is fully committed to learning to use a shooting sling properly, let’s get down to making it work.  Remember that the sling is made up of a loop that is wrapped around the uppermost portion of the support arm and is then connected to the forward swivel/stud of the rifle.  When the elbow is rested on the ground or a solid object, the sling will support the weight of the rifle, so long as your position provides a suitable framework.

How do we go about attaching the sling to the upper arm?  The means of attaching the sling vary by the type of sling.  What I’m going to explain instead of how to use your particular kind of sling is the manner in which your sling’s loop should be attached to the upper part of your support arm.

In explaining how to affix your sling, I need to make obvious what should already be an obvious tendency of the loop.  The sling, if properly configured, will be under tension.  This is necessary for it to support your rifle’s weight.  This tension pulls the rifle from its front sling swivel stud towards the attachment point at your support arm.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  This means that the sling also pulls from its attachment point at the upper part of your support arm towards the front swivel stud on your rifle.

As I explained in a previous article, we really hope that your arm is not going to come loose from its attachment point to the shoulder.  Likewise, we hope that the sling swivel will stay firmly attached to the rifle.  Therefore the weak link in this chain is the point at which the loop is attached to the arm.  This is why there is a very specific way to attach the sling to the arm.

Hopefully you’ve picked up the words I have been using- “upper part of your support arm.”  Specific definitions invite specific interpretations.  The arm originates at your shoulder joint and terminates at the elbow joint, at which point the forearm begins.  The upper part of your support arm is above the bicep, and above the meatier parts of the tricep.  It’s as high as you can be on the arm without reaching the deltiod.  This is where the sling goes.  The following photos show the spot where the sling just kind of fits right in.

2012-12-06 001 004
2012-12-06 001 006


Why am I being such a stickler about this?  Because I was “pretty much aware” of where the sling went for quite a while before I started using it to good effect by doing it properly.  There’s a difference between knowing what’s right, knowing if you’re doing it right, and doing what’s right  We would like all three to coincide all the time, but a lot of the time there’s a perceptual blindness that keeps us from existing in a state of integrity (harmony?).  To overcome this tendency you have to apply deliberate effort in training yourself.

The other reason to be a stickler about this is that the sling has a greater tendency to slip the closer it is to the elbow.  As the sling slips it also loosens, which enables it to slip even more readily.  Slipping sling loops mean inconsistent sling tension.  Inconsistent inputs into the shooting system usually mean inconsistent outputs from the shooting system.  Translation: if you keep your sling lower on the arm than is absolutely ideal your shots have a higher likelihood of going astray from your intended point of impact.  Keep your loop in precisely the right spot.

I find that the kinesthetic cue for me to get the sling properly placed is that the top edge of the loop’s width has the feeling of being at the threshold of the armpit (dangerously close to the dreaded “tickle zone”).

Following are several photos that will show you correct and incorrect loop placement in different positions.

Rice Paddy Prone:

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2012-12-07 001 004

Sitting
:

2012-12-07 001 001
2012-12-07 001 002
Prone:

2012-12-07 001 005
2012-12-07 001 007


You can see from the photos that I’m splitting hairs.  I encourage you to split them too.  It makes a difference.

Different styles of slings require different placements of the sling hardware on the arm, left, right, or center.  Consult your local sling expert, the manual, experiment, or you can refer to my catalogue of sling articles.

5 thoughts on “How to Use the Sling, Part 1: The Shooting Sling to Arm Connection

  1. Yep.
    The higher the sling loop is on your support upper arm, the more leverage it has to hold up your support hand/forearm/rifle.

    Look at the angle the sling makes across the ‘V’ of your upper/lower arm bones. The more the sling goes horizontal across the top of the ‘V’ (parallel with the rifle) the more the support. The more the sling is closer to your forearm line, the less leverage it has.

    Also, if the sling loop slides down your upper support arm, the support goes away, as the sling is moving forward as well as down, and bleeds off the supporting tension in the strap.

    • “Also, if the sling loop slides down your upper support arm, the support goes away, as the sling is moving forward as well as down, and bleeds off the supporting tension in the strap.”

      Exactly, and if the sling is not placed correctly to begin with it makes that scenario more likely, and it snowballs from there.

      It’s such a simple thing that it seems silly to write ~700 words on it with multiple photos, but I bet you see it on the line all the time. I don’t know if people dismiss it as unimportant or less important, if there are too many other pressing details to attend to and it gets lost, or if they just aren’t aware of it. It’s an easy fix once you decide to get it right.

      “The higher the sling loop is on your support upper arm, the more leverage it has to hold up your support hand/forearm/rifle.”

      I noticed while “posing” for those photos that the angle changes by position quite a bit and it would change by the location of the handstop/forward swivel stud. My swivel stud is too far to the rear in my opinion, which affects my support arm placement in prone negatively, but seems to have a positive effect on the sling angle.

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