Adventures With Slings
I’ve lived a life that has been intertwined with firearms. From the years I spent as a Marine, to being a recreational and competition shooter, and of course a hunter. One thing that has tied me to my guns has always been slings. I’m an advocate for high quality, well-made slings. They connect me to the rifle, which is more notable than it seems. The events I’ve gone through carrying guns have long taught me the value of a high quality sling. I’ve gathered a few notable events that have really formed my opinions on the reasons slings are an absolute necessity.
Those Two Turkeys
When I was sixteen I found myself in the middle of spring gobbler season in Northwest Florida. I’d had never hunted turkeys, but was always up for a challenge. While most hunt turkeys from the ground I was new to this, so I used tree stand. I parked myself at the edge of a field and sat comfortably in my stand.
I wasn’t sitting for long when I started hearing a gobbler to my right. Then it seemed like I heard him moving behind me. Then to my right again, and then behind me. As he got closer I realized he was actually two separate turkeys. The gobbler behind me slowly got louder as the one to my right faded away. I slowly spun around, I couldn’t stand very well, and because the tree I was hooked was behind me I couldn’t really look around.
Being 16 and full of piss and vinegar didn’t stop me. I looped my sling around my back. I spun around, got my knees on the seat and leaned out from the tree stand. My off hand held onto the tree stand as I leaned over and out. The sling was supporting the weight of my shotgun as one hand was all I had to shoot with. I saw my gobbler, put the bead of my shotgun on him and squeezed the trigger.
As I spun to get out of this position I racked the pump action shotgun out of habit. At the same time the second gobbler panicked and ran right in front of me. Using the sling to help support my gun I got my bead on the second turkey and he was mine. Without my sling I’d have gotten maybe one of them. Because of my sling I got both.
The Log Crossing
As a machine gunner is Afghanistan I met plenty of situations where my thirty-pound machine gun was a serious hassle. One was a log crossing. Under the log crossing was the about 4 feet of flowing water. This was a strong current, nearly rolling. This little log was challenging enough with a rifle; with a machine gun it was a nerve racking nightmare.
One morning on patrol it was quite humid and foggy. When the fog settled on the log things became slippery. One day the fates aligned and as I put that step on the middle of the log my foot came out from under me. Down I went, falling backwards, flailing my arms like I could fly. Big surprise I couldn’t.
To the bottom I went. The water pulled at me, but it wasn’t strong enough to pull me. However, I could feel it tugging my weapon, not hard, but enough to make it move. The water was so brown I couldn’t see a thing if I wanted. Without my sling, my squad and I would’ve spent hours combing that stream until to find my M240. Instead, I was wet and miserable and teased the rest of the patrol. But I still had my gun.
The last story I have is during some MOUT training. MOUT is Movement over urban terrain. It is essentially how to fight inside a city. This was something I observed which impressed the hell out of me. I was playing the role of ‘bad guy’ versus other Marines in this training.
The good guys goal was to clear the house of the bad guys. We took positions in areas we’d knew they’d be the most vulnerable. I was in position with another ‘bad guy’ by a door to intercept the entry team. We snugged up close to the door to take by absolute surprise and deny them entry.
The first man through the door and slightly stumbled, slowing his entry. My buddy took the opportunity and grabbed the barrel of the point man. The point man was also the Platoon Sergeant, apparently leading by example. In an instant the point man dropped his grip on his rifle and transitioned to his pistol. My buddy couldn’t take the rifle because it was slung, and the Platoon Sergeant/Point man pointed his handgun and said bang triumphantly. It the fastest and most effective transition I’d ever seen.
These are just three of the stories that involve slings in my military career. Outside of these funnier, more interesting stories, a sling is a must have when carrying a gun. Just for convenience, for safety, and for comfort. If it’s a long gun it needs a sling, if it’s a pistol it needs a holster. It’s not rocket science.