How To Use a Sling as a Shooting Rest

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A rifle may be a precision instrument. A properly set up rifle is amazingly accurate out to hundreds of yards.

Firing a rifle from a solid benchrest offers rock-solid stability. However, firing while standing from a field position is another matter.

When firing off-hand, it is more difficult to keep a rifle steady.

The same applies to shotguns when firing with rifled slugs, primarily when the shotgun is used in a tactical role.

While a sturdy well-designed sling is necessary for weight-bearing and carrying the firearm, a rifle sling may also be used to steady the rifle for greater practical accuracy.

While a rifle must be held in a steady firing position, this type of grip may stress the arms.

The use of a rifle sling tightens the hold and allows for a more relaxed firing position.

The result is off-hand accuracy rivaling, and in some cases equaling, benchrest accuracy.

The use of a tactical sling will result in greater control during rapid shot strings.

man firing rifle with sling support
Use several different types of wrap techniques during practice.

Sling Positioning

The proper means of “slinging up,” as it is called, is to first grasp the rifle forend. The support hand is used and the firing hand grasps the handle.

The sling should be looped around the forearm and tension should be formed at the elbow.

Get the rifle butt tight into the hollow of the shoulder and maintain tension.

The sling should be properly adjusted to bring the rifle into tension with the support arm keeping the sling tight.

In general, I find I am more accurate in the beginning of a shooting session when using a sling properly.

At 50 yards, I think I am about 20 percent as likely to hit the target and keep a good group on a pie plate target.

However, as time goes on and the muscles are stressed and stretched from the firing session, the use of a sling compared to my usual tired self at this point makes up to 50 percent difference in effectiveness.

The same is true proportionately at 100 yards. Keep it looped over elbow and tighten the triceps, and you will have similar results.

man firing shotgun with sling support
With practice, the shotgun handles quickly and delivers good accuracy.

Firing Best Practices

When moving to a kneeling position, the sling remains a great aid to marksmanship.

Keep the support-side elbow firmly planted on the knee and keep the sling in tight.

A kneeling position reduces stress and tension and makes for greater accuracy at longer range.

As you move around, the relationship of the elbow, forend and support hand may change, resulting in a different feel.

Keep the tension high and use proper grip technique and breath control at longer range.

I recommend practicing bringing the rifle off your shoulder and getting into the proper sling position as you assume the firing position.

It is much slower to get into a firing position and then attempt to sling up.

There are different techniques based on the chore. Firing off-hand, from kneeling or firing from behind cover will demand certain adjustments.

Shotgun with sling on wood table
Shotguns also benefit from good slings.

Selecting a Sling

If you look over the CheaperThanDirt! selection, there are many rifle slings to fit every need. Some are leather, some are fabric.

These slings are designed as loading-bearing devices. Some are designed to aid marksmanship as well.

A sling for use in competition is more complex, usually leather, and may require a modest break-in before it stops creaking.

Just coat it every week or so with saddle soap or leather treatment and it will break in, becoming more supple.

Stretching the sling from time to time is also a good technique. For tactical use, a synthetic sling works well and may offer less slippage.

Cotton slings are minimal and don’t last very long. A sling with excellent range of adjustment is good.

Leather competition slings are usually hard to adjust and difficult to adjust quickly, but they are excellent for static shooting.

A sling with a greater range of easy adjustment is needed for tactical use, as there are different positions used.

Whatever sling you use, practice. This may easily be done with dry fire. I think that while some like a bipod, bipods are for static long-range fire.

The sling is much more versatile and allows a rigid stance in many field scenarios.

Give them a try and you will find slings are must-have additions to your rifles.

Have you used slings to help stabilize your rifles? Let us know how it worked out in the comments below!



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