Keep It Still– Get On Target

One of the basic requirements to accurate shooting with a…

One of the basic requirements to accurate shooting with a firearm is to keep the gun as still as possible throughout the shooting cycle. Motion from involuntary human and external environmental factors is impossible to eliminate completely. Even with a moderate movement, effective hits can be achieved.

Those that specialize in shooting groups where obliterated “Xs” and micrometers of space between each hole can mean the difference between victories spend countless hours perfecting stance and grip to reduce arm and gun gyrations to an absolute minimum. What if I told you that the average shooter could approach that level of performance and still have a life? Bear with me, because now you can.

I first began to shoot shoulder weapons, specifically machine pistols and submachine guns, without employing a stock when Heckler & Koch’s Phil Singleton showed up at Quantico, Virginia, and put us through his emerging SMG course.

They collapsed the SMG stocks and used the versatile OEM sling system as a brace by pushing out against its tension to stabilize the weapon held out almost at arms length. At the time, we did not buy the technique and thought canceling out the stock was not the best way to deal with both near and far threats simultaneously.

However, when I attended the UK Royal Marine’s Special Boat Squadron Marine Counter-terrorism course later, they hooked up nylon loop slings to the end caps of their HK MP5s and brought the fight to potential nautical terrorists that commandeered ships and oil production platforms. Some of the SEALS in the Development Group used elastic bungee cords in the same manner and I persuaded HK to send me a plastic end cap for my MP5 A3. It worked well at close-quarters battle ranges.

A few years ago, I wrote an article on school resource officers and said that some school hallways are so long that the average police officer cannot provide adequate watch coverage should it be needed. Most police agencies do not require their officers to shoot past 25 yards for sidearm qualification, so engagements beyond that would not only be daunting, but quite dangerous if students were in the vicinity of an active shooter.

During the winter in New York, my old high school track team used to practice in the school’s hallways (it was over 100 yards long). However, I don’t think there is a school board in the nation that would approve of resource officers patrolling the school grounds with carbines or SMGs slung over their shoulders. I understand why schools want to be free of visual threats to foster learning, but it might take a possible Beslan Massacre-like incident in the US to change this perspective.

In lieu of long guns, I advocated the resurrection of federally condemned pistol shoulder stocks for police sidearms, and Mako Security responded with a collapsible plastic stock for the Glock pistol. Knowing this recommendation would send shudders of revulsion through the ranks of politically correct police administrators and liberal politicians, I substituted three- and five-cell flashlights to create a field expedient shoulder stock. With my Glock 20 10mm, I had no difficulty tearing up a silhouette target at 100 yards with repeat rounds.

Steady Strap
I have come to respect and admire Bill Laughridge, proprietor of the Cylinder & Slide enterprise, who incorporates his prolific inventiveness, custom firearm creations as well as mentoring aspiring gunsmiths into the art of pistolsmithing.

In a “why didn’t I think of that” moment I realized that Bill and his co-conspirators have solved the problem of keeping your firearm steady with a simple nylon adjustable thumb sling that can be used with your rifle as well as your handgun. Worn around the neck, it can be slipped under a shirt. It takes only seconds to slip over the dominant thumb for handgun deployment right from the holster and the downrange results are downright gratifying. It can also be easily maintained on the thumb from most ready gun positions.

For a long gun, simply extend the strap and loop, and put the loop over the support hand thumb. Extend it to the desired length on the fore grip and you are braced for the next shot. It is important to employ just enough tension to steady the gun. Too much forward tension is counterproductive, and on handguns too much tension magnifies muzzle rise.

Firing at a target at 25 yards with a CCF Metal RaceFramed Glock 35 with Federal 180-grain .40 JHP HST, I managed to turn in the following six-shot groups: a two-handed hold off-hand at 3.41 inches, a two-handed hold from bench rest at 2.53 inches and, with the Steady Strap, standing off-hand at 2.56 inches.

The weather was overcast and below freezing, with snow covering the range and the Glock had two cases of ammunition through it without cleaning. I also discovered that the pistol’s front sight was loose, but for comparison purposes, I was satisfied with the gun and ammunition’s performance.

Without question, the strap almost duplicated my group from a rest and I am sure that with it I could occasionally turn in tighter clusters than I could from the bench.

I am a great believer in the mantra “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” and there is nothing wrong with Bill’s “strap.” However, I hate straps that are twisted and don’t lay flat, where in this case, the current setup unavoidably does. Instead, create a three-piece system consisting of a fixed loop sling that is placed over the neck and attach an adjustable extension sling to the neck sling via a closed loop.

The thumb loop is attached to the adjustable extension sling via a rotating swivel so the thumb and weapon can be canted without binding. This version looks just like a rugged lanyard designed to display security badges or attached to pistol butts for retention. However, to avoid it being recruited as a garrote, the neck loop could be looped around one shoulder.

Final Notes
Obviously the sportsman and hunter can benefit from the sling, and since it is not attached to the firearm, the feds won’t come knocking on your door. It’s beneficial to law enforcement when officers must rely on their service side arm to suppress threats they cannot get close to because of opposing firepower; and aids SWAT personnel by augmenting their precision when the handgun becomes the primary entry weapon for a tactical event.

Although police agencies could equip their officers with pistol shoulder stocks legally, I doubt that they would go to the trouble to do so, but the individual officer could acquire the Steady Strap and not violate any state, local
or federal laws.

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