Shoot Better: Make the Sling Shot

photo by Jeff Wilson

The kneeling or sitting position is often the only practical way to make an accurate shot in various real-life situations. In these circumstances, a shooting sling is a real aid to accuracy.

How a Sling Works

A sling's primary purpose is used to carry a firearm in various positions of readiness. Many modern slings will have quick-adjust buckles and elastic bungees that allow this, but one can still be used like a simple sling to steady a shot by cinching it around the arm that's supporting the rifle and pulling the buttstock snug into the shoulder, especially when firing from the kneeling or sitting position. In fact, some modern slings are designed for this specific purpose, and can help a shooter snug their firearm even better than older slings. No matter which sling you use, it should form one side of a triangle, with the other two sides being the shooter's bent arm and the stock it supports.

Proper Technique

You want to build that triangle right above the knee, with the elbow positioned just in front of the kneecap. Done right, bones—not muscle—support the rifle.

Of all the fundamentals, the most important when kneeling or sitting is natural point of aim (NPA). With correct NPA, the rifle is pointed at the target, and the shooter’s body is “pointed” at the rifle. This means that the shooter isn’t exerting any muscular pressure on the rifle to aim it.

Modern shooting slings have quick-adjust buckles or elastic bungees so that a rifleman can lock into a steady position fast. This is the Tactical Shotgun Sling With Sewn-In Swivels from Uncle Mike’s.

How to Practice

Developing proper NPA requires a lot of dry-fire practice. You master this at home, not at the range. To check for proper NPA, build your shooting position, close your eyes, and go through a couple of breathing cycles. Open your eyes. If you’re on target, that’s great. If not, move your body and rifle as a single unit to make a correction and try again.

Once you’ve established good NPA, take stock of your body—the position of your feet, torso, and arms. Break the position and do the drill again. Eventually your NPA will improve. Do this break-and-build drill from the typical carrying position you’ll use in the field.

Making the Shot

With a kneeling or sitting shot, break the trigger at the bottom of the breathing cycle. Don’t slap the trigger—press it straight to the rear. Slapping will cause the shots to string out horizontally across the target. After the shot, stay engaged with the rifle. Wait until the recoil is over, then release the trigger and run the bolt.

A rifle sling isn’t just for carrying a rifle or shotgun. Different designs help a shooter steady a firearm. This is the Three Point Nylon Sling from Uncle Mike’s.

Goals

You want to be able to hit a 2 minute-of-angle target while kneeling or sitting. This means hitting a 2-inch target at 100 yards, a 4-inch target at 200 yards, and so on. Start off shooting at 4 MOA or larger target and work your way to the smaller target.