The End of Single-arm Sling Trouble (part 3)


Coordination of Mind and Muscle Are Necessary

By Aubrey Spencer

Concluding article by Dr. A. W. L. Row, Toowoomba, Qld, on the use of the single-arm sling appears here, and like these which have gone before, is well worth the careful study of all riflemen anxious to overcome these puzzling little difficulties which seem to have arisen since the compulsory use of the single-arm sling was introduced. This and the three preceding articles should he studied as one, if the best is to be made of Dr. Row’s valuable contribution.

The experienced rifleman will find much that he perhaps already knows, but it will surprise if some useful hint is not brought under his notice which will help to improve his standard. Some of the ‘die-hards’ to whom the single-arm sling is anathema, have suggested to me that the doctor advocates that attachment as being superior to the double-arm. No. such thing. I suspect that if afforded the opportunity to use either, he would prefer the latter. All he has done is to suggest ways and means of overcoming the disabilities one encounters in the use of an attachment which, for good reasons or bad, has to be used whether riflemen like it or not.

In  a letter from Dr. Row, he says : ‘ln reading over article as published by you in the October 29 issue, it seems to be that I could .have simplified matters considerably by being more explicit. In the last paragraph, and with reference to the sentence commencing, ‘Any shortening of the left hand grip, etc.,’ I perceive a statement which might be misleading, and consequently suggest a correction to read as follows: —’Any shortening of the left-hand grip towards the breech will raise the left hand higher from the ground, and hence will raise the muzzle of the rifle unless either (1) the left elbow be straightened still further in order to lower the left hand to its original height – (such a straightening causing an increase in the sling tension) – or (2) the butt be raised higher on the shoulder to counteract the raising of the left hand. If, however, such a butt correction should involve raising the height of the shoulders in order to retain a comfortable fit of the butt on the right shoulder, the sling should be lengthened sufficiently to avoid such an alteration, even an inch or less of extra length will make a great difference in comfort. It is important, however, to avoid the need of such compensating alterations designed to maintain uniform sling tension, and this can be achieved by always gripping the fore-end at the same spot. Once that spot has been ascertained for the height of the rifle from ground, comfort, and steadiness, and the length of sling adjusted accordingly, there is something wrong if comfort and steadiness are not achieved.


The hips and legs are to be regarded as the rear fixed, points of the prone position; The left elbow has to be at such a distance from the hips that, when the shoulders are lowered to the required height, their weight tends to push the elbow an inch or so further forward, the bone sliding forward inside its loose skin until the skin on the under surface of the forearm is pulled taut: this checks the movement and the weight is now resting on the front of the elbow, a very vital point; in other words, there is no hanging back of the left shoulder, but it is lowered and thrust forward as far over , the left elbow as the latter’s grip on the ground will allow. This gives a great feeling of steadiness during both aiming and recoil, and is very comfortable.Thus the lowering of the shoulders thrusts the left elbow forward till its skin tightens, and the left hand thrusts the rifle forward till the sling tightens, while the right shoulder is thrust forward against the butt. In other words, the whole body from the hips is thrust forward towards the elbows by lowering the shoulders till their optimum position is reached, by which time the lower chest has reached the ground, and it and the two elbows support the weight, without any uncomfortable hollowing of the back. This forward thrust is particularly necessary on a mound which slopes down and back, the thrust, of course, being from the hips. 

Position of the chest with reference to the elbows: When the chest is in its correct position, and a deep breath is taken during aiming, the foresight will move vertically down the middle of the target; if it moves to the right, move the chest over to the right an inch or two, keeping flic hips and elbows fixed, aud try again; it is most important, to get this correct position of the chest, or irregular shooting will result. 

Also, cant is a more marked degree of the same fault, if the elbow positions are correct with reference to one another. It is to be noted, however.that cant is due to an error in the relative heights of the two shoulders,  leading to a tilting laterally of the butt as it fits snugly into the shoulder. Thus,dropping the right shoulder causes a cant to the right (very easy), and raising it causes one to the left (rather difficult).This dropping, can be caused most easily by. moving the right elbow further out from the body or further back from the butt. In lesser degrees, however, it is caused by having the chest’s area of contact with the ground at the wrong distance from the right elbow, even when the latter is correctly placed with reference to the left elbow. The legs should be so placed that they grip the ground and so help to fix the hips; a great help is afforded by slightly bending the right thigh on the hip, so as to be able to exert a thrust forward from the right knee if necessary. 

Remember that, to hold perfect elevation is the hardest, as well as the most important thing in shooting, and that, with the single arm sling, it is essential to maintain uniformity of sling tension as well as of butt pressure to secure uniform elevation results.


To summarise the methods of maintaining firmness: —

1. The hips are kept firm on the ground not only by their own weight,but also by that of the legs, together with a slight forward thrust off the right knee. If necessary, exerted by straightening the slightly flexed right thigh.

2. The left, side of the body and left shoulder are kept firm by lowering the shoulders till the position of the left elbow so tightens the body and left upper arm that the lowering Is checked. The left shoulder is also thrust forward on the body towards the loft elbow. ‘

3. The left arm is rendered firm by thrusting the left hand with the rifle towards the target until the tightening of the sling checks the movement. The left elbow is placed straight in front of the left shoulder or close to that position.

4. The right shoulder is rendered firm similarly to the left, the right elbow being kept well forward to assist it.

5. The right elbow is prevented from sliding outwards by an inward pull from the shoulder of the whole right arm, with firm pressure of the hand on the small towards the left.

6. The right hand grip is rendered very firm by the grasp of both fingers and thumb round the small, while pressure of the heel of the hand and ball of the thumb prevent the act of trigger pressing from altering the aim.

7. The whole weight is thrust forwards over the left elbow.

Method of aiming. — When once the hips and left elbow are comfortable and correctly fixed in position, do not move the left elbow to secure any needed alteration in alignment, but move the right elbow slightly, and then the chest until not only is correct alignment secured without obvious canting, but also the foresight, when a deep breath is.taken, moves vertically down the target. Do not attempt to alter alignment to any marked extent merely, by swinging the left hand across, for the act of firing will then tend to cause the rifle to resume its previous position. – In other words secure alignment by very accurate adjustment of the relative positions of elbows and chest; the rifle then simply lies in the hands pointing correctly at the target, without any sense of muscular strain holding it there.


Then,and only then, settle down to aim; take a steady slow breath until the foresight is lowered on to the aiming mark, bringing it to its final position by a slight increase in left hand thrust to make sure that the sling is correctly tightened. To prevent the muzzle dipping too low, press the left forefinger upwards against the foreend quite gently. To prevent the muzzle wandering to the left when firing, a very common fault, keep the heel of the right hand pressed against the small, and the ball of the right thumb pressing downwards as well as to the left on the small. Also, press the left thumb gently against the left side of the fore-end.

When firing, do not think of anything but watching the foresight, focusing it clearly, and trying to notice what happens to it during the whole duration of the recoil. It is amazing how this habit improves the uniformity of one’s holding Snapping practice reveals two main tendencies in disturbing the aim at the moment of firing with a single arm sling, a tendency of the muzzle (1), to wander to the left; (2) to drop slightly, and much snapping practice is essential to avoid these by perfect holding.

Imagine that someone at the target is firing back at you, rendering it highly advisable to keep head, shoulders and rifle as low as is consistent with comfortable aiming, and maintain this low position with weight thrust forward over the left elbow till the recoil has finished.On firing, no matter how light a man is holding the rifle, there should not be the slightest tremor of either elbow on the ground, much less any obvious jump or slipping.The recoil is taken very largely by the thrusting left hand, arm and shoulder the firm right shoulder only feels a steady push, and the rifle and body recoil as one unit; there is no sensation of a ‘kick’ on the shoulder. The muzzle does not jump wildly, and the head, kept low, never gets a knock from the rifle.


Blows on the face can be caused by two chief faults (1), lifting the head and slackening the left arm thrust at the moment of firing (2), pulling away the right shoulder to lessen the ‘kick.’ It is the upward rather than backward recoil which causes the damage, and this cannot occur if the left arm thrust be firmly maintained till after the recoil. ‘With perfect holding, the face and rifle recoil together and hence no collision occurs, however close the eye is placed to the’ sight.

 Perfect holding consists in perfect comfort, perfect steadiness, and as little muscular tension as is required to ensure them — another example of ‘economy of effort,’ which helps us to avoid fatigue, the great enemy to uniformly accurate shooting. 

Softening the sling — In about ¼  pint of neatsfoot or castor oil dissolve with heat about an ounce of beeswax. To apply it, lay the sling on some flat surface. e.g. linoleum, and, with a hot flatiron, iron the mixture into both sides of the sling until it will absorb no more; do not heat the leather hotter than the hand can bear.Then rub off any surplus oil with a rag, and render the sling supple by pulling it to and fro from end to end round a broom handle or some such convenient rod until it is quite supple.The oil softens the leather, and the beeswax prevents the oil from oozing out, and also gives a good gripping surface. A sling thus treated will last a lifetime; its surface can be given an occasional rub with the mixture or with any furniture polish containing beeswax

Referee  Thu 12 Nov 1936