U.S. ARMY SPECIAL OPERATIONS VET KYLE LAMB REVEALS TIPS TO BOLSTER YOUR SHOOTING WHILE USING A SLING
Two words: Kyle Lamb. In this exclusive, the U.S. Army Special Operations vet provides tips on how to improve your shooting with a sling. By Dave Rhoden
It is the issued sling of a lot of the top special operations units out there. When Saddam was rolled up, those guys were wearing VTAC slings. When Osama Bin Laden was killed, the SEALS were wearing VTAC slings. So, let’s meet the guy behind the industry’s most iconic sling, and maybe learn a few tactical tips along the way. —Dave Rhoden
The evolution of the battle rifle has given us improved triggers, better barrels and free-float tubes. The latter is the ideal partner with a VTAC sling because a free-float tube allows you to put more sling tension on your weapon when you’re in your shooting position, without decreasing your accuracy.
In the old days, if you really tightened down your sling on a non-free-floated rifle, you could move your point of impact (POI) while shooting. Pulling too hard on that sling could move POI as much as three or four inches at 100 yards. With a free-floated barrel, you don’t have that issue, and most quality AR’S out there are free floated. In the following story, SGM (Ret.) Lamb provides tips to enhance your tactical game.
When a novice shooter attends a carbine class, the chances they have a free-floated barrel are over 90%. Hopefully we have convinced them to put on a VTAC sling, and all we must teach them now is how to use that sling as a shooting aid.
When they first get in the prone position, they are either going to have the sling too loose or they are going to take it completely off when they assume the prone position. What they should do is have the sling over their
“I SHOOT WITH MY SLING REALLY TIGHT BECAUSE IT’S LIKE HAVING TWO MORE HANDS ON THE AR WHEN I AM SHOOTING.”
right shoulder and under their left (for a right-handed shooter) and reach up to the pull tab, pulling it tight when they’re in that position. If that’s not tight enough, then just grab another handful of sling and continue to pull it until it’s adjusted as tightly as they need it.
I shoot with my sling really tight because it’s like having two more hands on the AR when I am shooting. So right there they’ve seen, “Okay, wow this improves my position.” Now we can move them on to the next position.
The next position I would teach is the sitting position and the same thing applies there. Use the sling to tighten that position. In a standard sitting position, the sling doesn’t get as much use as it does in, say, a rocking chair position, which is one of the positions we teach where you’re wrapping the sling around the front of your knee to support the rifle. If you don’t have a tight sling there, all of the stress is going to be on your belly versus letting you relax. If you’re trying to hold your body in position with muscle for these positions, then you just can’t be in that position very long. If you’re using the sling and bone structure, man hang on your bones and let them do what they got to do. That’s a climbing phrase, by the way, “Climb off your bones.” Because if you climb off your muscle, you’re not going to be able to sustain a long route. And if you’re climbing without protection, you’re screwed because once you run out (of muscle) you’re done. And that’s basically the same thing for shooting. We want to use our bone structure to support us in that position versus muscle.
I say that, and we do want to try to put muscle against bone. But when we’re doing that we want that bone to provide most of the support.
Sling or Holster?
A two-point sling is a carry strap that allows you to have the weapon
hang in a natural position that you could quickly access if you go hands-free for a minute. But it’s a carry strap that provides stability and enhances your accuracy. You’ve seen old guys wrap their arm through their sling of their hunting rifle. You’ve seen tactical guys wrap their hand in their sling; wrapping your hand in your sling is not a good idea because if you do have to quickly transition to your sidearm or move, now you have to unwrap your hand first. Whereas with the VTAC sling, you just stand up or transition to your pistol or whatever that next move happens to be.
“If you don’t have a tight sling there, all of the stress is going to be on your belly versus letting you relax.”
The kneeling position always wears people out, so it’s one where any little trick that you can use to get in a better position helps. One trick is to tighten the sling. There I show them some different positions where they can use bone structure to support the rifle versus using so much muscle. We do some stretch kneeling positions, which are quicker positions to get into, where having the sling tight will help you take out a little bit of that wobble as well. If I could have another 10 attaching points from my body to the ground, obviously that’s what I would do. That’s what guy wires do; they stabilize things and that’s how that sling is working. Think of it as guy wires coming off your weapon system to you and they both hold each other. When I am in that kneeling position, I have my front knee up, I turn my front foot 90 degrees off the target line and when I do, that allows me to take stress off my knee. I then put my magazine in front of my knee, my pistol grip behind my knee, and I truly have a stable position. Now if I add a piece of cover to that, I can drop my opposite knee, use my front hand on the cover (the cover’s not going to move if it’s good cover like a car, a corner of a building, a tree, or whatever it might be), I put my back knee up, and now have almost the equivalent of a prone position with regard to stability.
To utilize the sling when shooting downhill, from a seated position with my feet stacked and in front, I hook
my thumb on my vertical grip and put my fingers around the bottom of my foot. If I don’t have a vertical grip, then I hook my thumb into my sling and then put my fingers over my foot.
What I don’t want to do is just lay the gun on top of my foot. Why? Iif you don’t have a long free-float tube you’ll normally impact your accuracy (if it is sitting on the barrel); therefore you don’t have good control to keep it there. That’ll work one-footed as well; you don’t have to have both feet stacked. If you’re going down a steep hill, one foot works just fine.
Fast Roping with a Sling
Whether you have the rifle in front of you or behind you when fast roping depends on the person. I prefer to keep it in front of me. If I’m going to slide to the edge of the helicopter, I’ve got my rifle in a position to shoot … and the last thing I do is let go of my gun, grab that fast rope and slide down. The sling keeps everything tight.
Like a lot of guys, I've slung the rifle across my back, slid across to go out the door of the helicopter, and what catches? My rifle. Now my rifle goes up, covers everybody, including the helicopter's motor, and then it finally comes down … and pendulums against me. You don’t want that. That’s why I prefer to carry it in front.
You can transition from strong to support side without unslinging, but I generally drop my support arm out of my sling to give me the ability to move easily to the support side. When I return, I just re-sling the weapon. It sounds like it would take some time, but it really doesn’t, and it will eliminate choking yourself with your sling.
When I am moving around, doing CQB type stuff, I don’t have my sling very tight at that point. And that allows me to quickly transition from strong to support side shoulder and back and forth. I never keep it so loose that if
I transition to my pistol, my carbine is beating me in the knees, but due to the way I have my sling adjusted, with one pull, it’s at the position where I like it. It does take practice.
A lot of the guys that I worked with in the past would just sling the weapon around their neck when they were doing CQB. In this case you just transition back and forth. You don’t even have to worry about the sling, because it’s just around your neck. I don’t mind that either when I’m doing CQB. The only downside of that is, if you get in a fight with somebody, now that weapon can be used to sling you around a little more than if you have your arm through the sling. Another issue is, if you have to transition to your pistol, you don’t want the rifle beating you up or otherwise be in the way.
Be mindful, when I say transition to your pistol, I’m talking about your rifle being out of order and you dynamically have to get to your pistol in a hurry. If you’re coming up to a stairwell and you decide that you’re going to be the guy that goes up the stairs first, or up into an attic and you want to use your pistol, that’s not a transition. That is slinging your rifle, getting your pistol out, and going up to clear with your pistol. That is not a dynamic movement. I’m talking about dynamic: I’ve got to get my pistol out quickly and into the fight because my rifle quit working.
I leave the sling on and just go to my happy mag (pouch) on my side (an AR mag located in a Kydex pouch on a belt, support side). I don’t put the buttstock under my arm when I’m doing a speed reload because I’m in a hurry. If I couldn’t support the weight of that weapon, then I might do that. I try to keep the muzzle up a little bit. I don’t flip the gun, and I don’t go up to the right and then down to the left because I’m not looking to see if I have a malfunction. I know what it feels like when I shoot dry, so I immediately drop the mag and have the other mag coming up.
If you have your weapon off and have it in a vehicle, one of the problems we ran into while exiting vehicles is that the loop of the sling used to catch on everything. So, another nice feature of a quick-adjust two-point VTAC sling is the ability to tighten it down to the side of your weapon system for vehicle operations. Or you can s-roll it and tape it to your weapon with masking tape or something else that you can rip loose; I normally use rubber bands. When you exit the vehicle, you just grab that, pull it out, and you’re ready to go.
Something else guys have told us is that they like the ability to use our sling in an urban environment for sniper or for AR work. They have connected them to light fixtures and then adjusted it to the front of their weapon system by how tight they pull it, or attached them to their belt and to their tripod to add weight when they’re shooting in certain situations. Some shooters have said that they could use it as a tourniquet if they had to. I would say that there’s probably a better tool for the job, which is a SOF-T tourniquet. But, if you were in a bad way, you could use that quick-adjust portion of the sling and then cinch it down tight.
The VTAC slings are made in America from the highest quality materials. They quickly adjust, you don’t have to unweight the weapon to tighten or loosen it, you can do it one-handed and you can tighten the sling down to the side of your weapon while performing vehicle operations. It’s been copied a bunch, so we must be doing something right. TW
Below: While in the Army, Lamb said he and a few others worked together to come up with a better mousetrap. Eventually, this path led to VTAC.
Shooting in a prone position, Lamb demonstrates the proper technique while shooting with a sling.
Top: While sitting, Lamb uses the sling to tighten that position. Notice how he uses his bone structure, not muscle, for support.
Bottom: When done properly, not only is the kneeling position a stable platform, but notice how compact it is, making you a smaller target.
Lamb instructs Dave Rhoden, owner of Flagrant Beard, on the finer subtleties of shooting from a stretch- kneeling position. When doing things like scaling walls, the Viking Tactics 2- point sling allows you to transition the rifle behind you, protecting your rifle and freeing up your workspace.
Here, Lamb shows how the sling works around a vehicle. Using his technique, he says you don’t have to unweight the weapon to tighten or loosen the sling. You can do it one- handed.