During our range trip today, we were educating a new rifle shooter on the importance of situational awareness and muzzle control.
Part of that instruction was on using certain styles of slings, which have increasingly been adopted by the tacticool. We told her that letting the rifle hang by a single-point sling is, at best, the “lesser of two evils.” It should only be allowed to hang if the shooter is in (or is actively training for) a situation where they must immediately transition to a secondary weapon and they have no time to properly secure and control the muzzle of the weapon. Letting a rifle hang by a single point sling almost inevitably results in a “rule one” safety violation, with the rifle pointing at the foot or feet of the shooter.
We also asked her to be cognizant of her surroundings, as the “safe direction” for the muzzle can change depending on any number of variables. We were doing much of our shooting today from a firing line that consisted of a concrete pad and a shed roof. Here, downward towards the concrete pad was not a safe direction, as a discharging round striking the hard surface could result in fragmentation of the round along with concrete shrapnel. The safe directions were down-range, and secondarily, “up.” A hole in the roof isn’t perfect, but is far better than down towards a hard surface. In a single-story building, “up” is almost always safer than “down.”
When our shooter moved forward off the concrete pad so that soil was beneath her feet, “down” (but away from her feet) again became a safe direction.
It appears that others could benefit from similar instruction.