How it seems to me...
Thanks to all the responses so far and thank you to Shaun for offering to look at this issue in more depth from a BFTA perspective.
Shaun, perhaps part of the reason why single point slings are not more widely used in FT is due to the conflict in the interpretation of the rules that renders their use almost impossible and certainly impracticable.
On one hand the use of a single point sling is expressly provided for and yet in the rule immediately preceding, the provisions prevent their reasonable and intended use by apparently preventing any accessory to be added to or taken away from the rifle during the course of a competition.
Perhaps I'm not very well placed to provide an opinion as I'm just at the beginning of my second year of competitive shooting. So from the perspective of a relative newbie, this is how the situation seems to me.
I believe that the current BFTA position on single point slings to be an anomaly, confusing, dangerous, an impediment and a discouragement to new shooters.
It seems to me that it is very difficult to safely and reasonably use a single point sling as they are designed and intended for use. These slings are designed and intended to be affixed to the shooter's upper arm and clipped to the rifle as and when needed, so that the sling remains attached to the shooter.
To create a situation that forces the FT shooter to do the reverse is unnecessary, unreasonable and dangerous.
It seems to me to be creating an unnecessary danger by forcing the FT shooter to have to try to wriggle into a rubberised cuff, with a thick and tacky sleeve, whilst at the same time connected to a heavy FT rifle. It is difficult to keep the barrel pointing down, and I can imagine this contortion being performed in all winds and weathers, with rain, snow, mud, ice, heat, tree roots, uneven ground, moss ect...the list goes on..
and possibly with a loaded weapon.
It seems to me to be a ridiculous situation.
Benefits of a Sling
Some 15 years ago I was a member of Swansea Rifle Club and I've done some smallbore shooting but only in the prone position. I found the use of a single point sling invaluable in that discipline.
I have a book by Christopher Fenning, Smallbore Rifle Shooting A Practical Guide.
On p.51 he states
'The sling is a vital piece of equipment for the prone shooter....without a sling the muscles of the left arm must hold the rifle in position, but with a sling, the weight of the rifle is transferred to the skeleton, allowing the muscles in the arm to relax.'
In another book by Launni Meili, Rifle Steps to Success the Olympic champion and US team coach states in relation to the kneeling position 'As in prone, your left arm should not be doing any work to hold up the rifle. The sling should be doing all that for you.' She is an Olympic champion in air rifle and smallbore three position.
A sling transfers much of the weight of the equipment to the skeleton and away from the muscles, making it easier to shoot.
A typical FT set up is very heavy ; rifle, large stock, butt hook, adjustable hamster, large scope, wheel, bells and whistles...it can be in excess of 15lbs.
A sling can help transfer that weight to the skeleton making all positions potentially easier to shoot. This is especially so for children, youngsters, women, the elderly and disabled and those new to the sport. Anything that helps transfer all that weight to make positions easier will encourage people into the sport. New shooters have yet to develop the strength, stamina and muscle memory to cope with a steady hold in positions and a sling would clearly help.
As things stand, the rules regarding single point slings are an impediment to all shooters and particularly to new and small shooters.
The argument that allowing a single point sling to be added and removed would open the way for underhand and unreasonable abuse is a little difficult to understand.
Scaffold, wires and meccano are not single point slings. These slings are obviously transparent in their use and appearance and cannot be mistaken for anything else.
In any case there are still Marshalls on hand to use common sense and initiative when challenged with anyone taking unfair advantage.
Also, Rules are there to be reviewed and adapted subject to changing circumstances. If someone comes up with some unforeseen ruse to create unfair advantage then there is always a future opportunity to legislate for that.
I respectfully argue that a clarification of the rules regarding single point slings is needed. I believe that it should be written clearly into the rules that single point slings can be added to and removed from the rifle for any shot during the competition.