Let’s Muddy the Waters, Shall We?

So far I’ve gone over how the loop sling works, and have tried my best to give y’all an idea of how well it assists with precision in a few positions.  The nice thing to me about the loop sling is that because of how simply it functions, it’s easy to get an idea of how it might be employed most advantageously.

The loop sling is not the only way that people attempt to use slings to aid their marksmanship.  The hasty sling is relatively popular to use in standing, and the ‘tactical’ sling is gaining popularity in all sorts of positions.  The mechanisms that these methods use to enhance hitting ability has been less clear to me, and the claimed benefits have, in some instances (not all), seemed to me to be dubious.  I think that some folks thing that if you just wrap sumpin’ round the arm a time ‘r two, it’s bound te dubble accercy ‘tleast.

First Things First

I haven’t quite finished up with the loop sling.  “Why is that,” you might ask, “and why re-introduce it here and now?”  Well speaking of dubious claims… the issue is that I don’t think the loop sling is of benefit in the standing position.  I don’t use it and I don’t recommend it.

The fact that slings aren’t allowed in several forms of competition in which the standing position is used would lead me on its face to believe that the sling should be beneficial.  If it’s cheating, after all, shouldn’t it be more effective?  That alone keeps me barely open to the possibility that to some people it may be helpful.

What I have noticed, however, and several times, mind you, is that people who shoot well in standing are generally current or former competitive shooters.  In non-competitive settings where the only rules are safety rules, these shooters still don’t use slings in standing.  Hmmm.  This is what I have heard from them several times when they are instructing people in the standing position: “You should use a sling in standing because it will help steady your hold.  I don’t use one, but that’s just a bad habit I have from competing because of the way the rules are set up.”  Really???

Breaking the Surface

I don’t want to make this article too long, but I don’t want to leave you completely hanging.  Since I’ve done a bunch of no sling versus loop sling comparisons let’s start there.  I can sum up my disdain of the loop sling in standing by saying that because the support elbow is not supported the shoulder must still support the rifle’s weight, and the benefit of the loop sling is largely negated.

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:


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.

Also, the loop sling position lacked pretty much any of the attributes that make standing useful for what it is in the field.  It was slow.  My ability to see my surroundings was severely compromised.  It was unnatural.  It was inflexible.  If I really needed to make the position more stable and had more time, the “target standing” position without the sling will do a bit better as far as precision, and will allow me to maintain a comfortable, balanced position.  The only thing I can say in defense of using the loop sling in standing is that I’m not at all used to using it.  Maybe someone who is used to it could do much better.

Extreme Spread:

‘Target’ Standing: 5.459 MOA
‘Practical Standing: 6.768 MOA
Loop Sling Standing: 10.043 MOA

Mean Radius:

‘Target’ Standing: 1.922 MOA
‘Practical Standing: 2.103 MOA
Loop Sling Standing: 3.410 MOA

In the next installment we’ll introduce the loop sling’s stepbrother Hasty and later their high speed low drag cousin Tac.

15 thoughts on “Let’s Muddy the Waters, Shall We?

  1. The benefit I see for the loop sling in standing is that, while it still leaves the support side shoulder supporting the weight of the rifle as you say, it keeps the support side biceps (and depending on the position, several forearm muscles) from having to support the same weight. It’s still a cantilevered position, but it’s better than one cantilever atop another, atop another, all supported by muscle tension. By removing one major pivot point (the elbow) and another minor one (the wrist), we can make the position marginally more stable, for essentially the same reason that we strive for rigidity in our rifles. SHOULD we be able to account for all the pivots and produce accurate results? Of course. But in practice, accuracy is less likely to come from a floppy system than from a rigid one.

    Your last paragraph highlights the reason (in my opinion) that your results here confirm your hypothesis. Many shooters who’ve never used a loop sling at all will be unable to use it properly at first, and will come away with the impression that the sling decreases accuracy. You’d immediately see the flaw in their reasoning. Don’t let the reverse happen to you!

    • I’m open to being proven wrong. 10 shot comparison groups with any relatively standard centerfire rifle- no shooting coats, chin guns, etc…

      If I had unlimited time I might pursue it further, but looking at it as an investor I would not think it would make a good return on my investment.

  2. Being the art of the Rifle, this does seem to focus on the rifle, slung or not, and how to improve the shot. So coming back I see you are tackling the shot without sling… but like the ground, the rifle is resting on the human. The integration of the rifle to human to ground and atmostphere and target are in constant conflict.

    Playing around with large edged weapons has made me realize that I have to go back to the body carrying the weapon, the balance, the flexibility and the swiftness – or else the cut will only be a smash – heavy and perhaps breaking the target but not a clean high velocity slice between molecules. So back to make the body perform to the standards of the blade’s edge.

    Going back, to the sling, or shooting bench with bags or bipods or brick wall or vehicle – what you can use to make the shot most effective – must be ingrained in the shooter, and the shooter has to get out of the recliner often enough that when standing taking the shot after skiing cross country to the position it will work five times for five targets.

    I will have to do some (lots!) more shooting from the standing position to find what is quickest and most effective for me – I have not the patience for three days in a deer stand, I do like to walk.

    • Yep. Darn that standing position for being so useful! Establishing that ground interface is a pretty big deal, and I’ve noticed that the balance of the position fades over the duration of the position if held too long. I’m sure that having some martial arts has helped you, as with me. I’ve started doing yoga as well as weight lifting. Yoga is a heavy duty balance challenge.

  3. Hmmm. I’ve never cared for the loop sling in standing, though I have tried it. In the latest segment of my pilgrimage I have opted for ‘hasty/hasty’ for quick shots, and hasty for standing shots where there is no significant time element. Both, when executed well, seem to add noticeable stability and comfort to the affair. I’ll look forward to the next installment.
    Can you give us a sneak peek at the RS-3? Curious minds, you know.

  4. I’m still standing out here in the snow trying to get my mind around “15 pounds” is that a typo or does that include overnight bag-sorry just had to ask

    • Rawhider would you take some advice from a concerned friend?
      First come into the warm out of the snow. Then work on the concept of the 15-lb. rifle. Your toes will thank you. 😉

      I’ve tried the loop in standing once on a 25m greencoat. Got two fives and eight V’s. But it was both awkward and painful. I had to really work at it. As far as I’m concerned the pain involved in shooting should all be on the receiving end, not the sending.

      • You must have been able to summon some powers of concentration that I did not possess to be able to do that in standing with the loop. It totally reminded me of when I was a new shooter, all frustration and jerking the trigger just to get it over with since I had nothing in the way of a decent sight picture anyway. Without the sling I’m fives and V’s all day.

        • Just a little more experience, I think. Loop plus some ‘hard holding’ muscle.
          I know lots of ways of cheating I purposefully left out of my books. 😉

      • Oh it feels so good standing by the stove-Thanks and finally I got it- ,Slinger works out and with a 15lb rifle who needs a weight set taking up space. Sorry about the rabbit trail now back to matters at hand

    • Yes, things have changed since the days of the Sako 75. I will grant you that the FN is not the most handy rifle in this configuration, and that scope was not intended to be on it. But she sure is a nice shooter now. Soft, gentle, shoots where you point her. Much like pistols, it would be nice to have one that’s nice for shooting, and one that’s nice for carrying. The AR does both, but doesn’t hit as hard.

  5. Potentially, I think you might see a different result if you account time into your shooting. If you have to put 10 shots downrange quickly, you might be faster and tighter with a sling to bring the rifle back into firing position quicker.

    • Maybe, maybe not. My first shot will be faster without the sling. In standing, I experience more difficulty in obtaining a sight picture with a hasty than with no sling at all.

      With the loop sling and a supported elbow, yes, the follow up shots come very quickly.

  6. Just want to throw out there from Jeff Cooper’s The Art of the Rifle: “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.” Basically he believed the elbow needed to be supported for the sling to work.

    Got my RS1 this week and I love it, hope it will be a key part in my quest for Rifleman this spring!

    • Yes, that quote had some influence on my early thinking. I don’t think I agree that it’s geometrically unsound necessarily, because the way it supports the rifle is ingenious. However the way it supports the rifle doesn’t work well for me.

      I’m glad you like your sling.

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