PUULOA RANGE TRAINING FACILITY, Hawaii --
Since first qualifying with their rifles at boot camp and constantly marching around the parade deck, Marines become familiar with the web sling, or parade sling. Even in the fleet, some units only have the web sling available for annual rifle training; however, the web sling’s days are numbered.
By July 1, all Marine Corps Base Hawaii subordinate and tenant commands will be required to possess either the three-point sling or the vigorous combat application sling, otherwise known as the VCAS, or “Vickers” sling.
MCB Hawaii is the last geographical location within the Marine Corps to transition from the web sling, and although other bases, such as MCB Quantico have done so in December, the three-month grace period allows for units to decide which sling to adopt.
“(The extra time) is going to allow the 17 tenant commands aboard MCB Hawaii to acquire the necessary slings to equip their Marines properly,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jordan Kramp, the Puuloa Range Training Facility officer in charge. “I can’t enforce the use of the three-point and the VCAS slings if I know the units have not been provided an ample amount of time to acquire the necessary equipment.”
According to Kramp, since the introduction of the three-point and Vickers slings, the web sling has become more of a nuisance to shooters due to its impracticality, as well as the natural progression of equipment and technology.
“We don’t train or fight with web slings, so the (sense) of having the web slings in addition to the three-point slings is pointless,” Kramp said. “There’s no reason to maintain three pieces of sling when you can have one (sling) that all of the things web slings can do, and most importantly, (the web slings aren’t combat effective).”
Because of their designs, the VCAS and three-point slings are not only more practical for combat environments, but also for annual rifle qualification.
“The three-point sling is designed to be compatible with any service rifle, like the M4, A4 and A2,” Kramp said. “What the marksmanship community recommends (for units) is to transition to the VCAS sling because the sling is more customizable to individual shooters, especially for annual rifle training. In addition to that, it is the preferred sling for close quarters combat training. (The sling) is easy to adjust and easy to customize. It’s a superior piece of equipment.”
Infantry units have not only long banished the web sling, but have also done away with the three-point sling, and have replaced it with the VCAS due to its operational capabilities in close quarters. The three-point sling, although preferred over the web-sling, is not as admired as the VCAS sling because of its precarious nature. The VCAS sling has been designed to fit securely over a Marine’s body and can be easily adjusted and personalized.
“The Vickers sling is a lot more adaptable than the web sling and three-point sling,” said Lance Cpl. Renaldo Cantu Jr., a Marine with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment and a Driscoll, Texas, native. “If you go into a (military operations on urban terrain) town and try to maneuver in close quarters, it’s really hard to do with the parade sling (because you’re restricted in movement.) If you’re a lefty and you’re trying to go around a right corner, you couldn’t just take off your web sling and put it on the other arm in a sufficient manner. (However), with the Vickers sling, if you need to switch sides, you (loosen it) and throw (it to your other side). It takes less than a second.”
Recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depots Parris Island and San Diego will still train with the web sling. However, for those who have already graduated, the web sling may just be a relic of the past.