WHY AND WHEREFORE OF ITS USE by Aubrey Spencer
Scientifically and Explicitly Explained
I have no diffidence in introducing Dr. A. W. L. Row, of Toowoomba (Qld.), to my readers per medium of a series of articles from his pen on the use of the single-arm sling. His previous articles on ‘Aiming’ have been so favourably commented on by a wide circle of readers that I am encouraged to anticipate that the present series will meet with an equally enthusiastic reception both from the novice and experienced rifleman alike. Those who have read my own article on this subject will at once perceive that the doctor and I somewhat differ in our advocacy regarding the best method of attaching the sling to the rifle. But it will also be noted that Dr. Row advances no arbitrary claim for the method he suggests us the best of the many means of attaching and using the single-arm sling.
Like myself, I am sure he appreciates the fact that individual physical attributes largely control the best method for each of us. However, the chief merit to be found in Dr. Row’s remarks is the fact that he so clearly places before the reader certain scientific aspects that no person without his high medical qualifications would dare presume to touch. That these aspects are highly important to the attainment of high standard skill in the use of the rifle no one can possibly deny. Even the layman will be able to appreciate the fact that in the correct observance of the principles laid down is to be found the secret of successful endeavor. To increase the rapidity of the bent left arm while the latter is supporting the weight of the rifle and thus to increase the steadiness and diminish fatigue, while also absorbing a great part of the recoil, is the purpose of the single-arm sling.
Principle: If firing in the prone position without a sling, one needs to pull the rifle butt into the shoulder, chiefly with the right hand. A double-arm sling renders this easier, for’ it helps to bring back the butt into the shoulder by its pull round the outspread elbows, and also braces both elbows and shoulders to form a steadier and firmer support. In any awkward or cramped position, however, it would be very difficult to use a double arm sling. The single-arm sling, however, Is much easier to use in difficult positions, and helps greatly in the standing or kneeling position as well. Its use, however, introduces a different principle, since this sling merely steadies the left arm, and does not brace up either elbow with reference to the position of the body, nor does it brace the shoulders; this leaves the right elbow free to slide outwards when the weight of the shoulders is lowered on to the elbows, or when recoil occurs. In spite of these deficiencies, however, it is quite able to hold its own with the double-arm sling as regards accuracy when used properly, and is considered by many to be much more comfortable especially for thick-set men.
A GOOD METHOD
These notes merely aim at explaining a method of using it which yields excellent results . easily and comfortably. There are many modifications of detail practised by different individuals,. but the main principles laid down are believed to be of universal application and beginners have improved rapidly when taught to apply them and kept on improving as they became increasingly comfortable and confident.
The sling itself is best made from good leather, and the regulation length of 54 inches is ample, while a width of 1 ¼ inches and thickness of about 3/32 inch will be found convenient. It is very important to soften the leather so that it will lie closely in contact (as well as comfortably) with the contours of the left arm; an easy method of doing so is described at the end of these notes. Its front end is attached to the swivel of the lower band, its rear end to the swivel in front of the magazine, with its rough surface towards the rifle and with no twist in it. For use, however one complete twist over and to the right side, as seen from the butt-end is introduced into it by passing the loop of the sling forwards up the left side of the rifle and over the muzzle (the front end of the loop passing below the barrel, the rear end above it) and down the right side, pulling the slack of the loop over the barrel to the left side, so that finally the front end of the sling passes upwards in close contact with the right side of the fore-end and crosses over it to the left just in front of the backsight ramp and then down the left side. (Note that this is not the same as having a looped front end embracing the fore-end.) This method avoids any necessity of altering the attachments of the sling when introducing the twist, while the twist can equally easily be removed for carrying purposes. Also, it will be found that, if all the twist is kept in front of the elbow when inserting the arm into the sling, the sling will lie flat along the contours of the forearm, wrist and back of hand, and thus secure a good grip. Again, the reason for winding the front end round the right side of the fore-end and across its top to the left lies in its effect of counteracting, the tendency of the single-arm sling as usually employed to cant the rifle to the right, since the sling pull is wholly towards the left side, and from the under surface of the fore-end; with this turn, the front end of the sling tends to cant the rifle to to the left, and the rear end to the light, so that they neutralise one another. (Be sure that the fore-sight is high enough not to be obscured by the sling as it crosses the top, when firing at 300 yards and other elevations of the back-sight.)
It is most important to realise that canting is generally with reference to the left, not the result of faulty grip, but of faulty position of right elbow or faulty direction of sling pull, or of faulty direction of shoulder pressure on the butt (due to the chest’s wrong position on the ground with reference to the right elbow’s positions) also, that such cant should NOT be corrected by changing the grip or twisting the wrists, but, presuming the right elbow is correctly placed with reference to the left, by altering the position of the chest with reference to the positions of the elbows; thus, a cant to the right, presuming the elbow positions are approximately correct, can be removed by moving the chest over-the-ground for an inch or two to the right (i.e.TOWARDS the cant), while keeping the hips and elbows still, and vice versa for a cant to the left. If the hands or wrists are used to correct cant, there is a grave risk of its recurring as the trigger is pressed, an action which tends to upset the twisting adjustment of the wrists; also as fatigue sets in, the correction even before firing is apt to be overlooked or inadequate. The recoil will completely mask any such recurrence, leaving the marksman quite unaware of the cant, and hence very liable to blame alterations in wind.