My order of Art of the Rifle by Jeff Cooper finally came in. It's easy to see why he is so idolized by gunners.
I had no idea that a sling can be used to increase your accuracy by making your firing position more stable.
He speaks of the purpose of a rifle, the mindset of a marksman, and of an emotional connection with your rifle.
I took my tactical sling apart and remade it to a military-style sling that I could use in firing positions.
I studied the pictures and descriptions and practiced dry-firing in some of the shooting positions he layed out, using the sling to achieve a remarkable level of stability. This is something one can practice sitting on the floor in front of the TV in the evening. I hope to improve my stability in the open-legged sitting position, and have little doubt that I will succeed.
Even after only reading part of the book, I regarded my AR differently. I thought that I needed an older rifle with a wood stock in order for it to be a rifle I could connect with, but excused that as clinging to nostalgia. When I picked up my rifle to practice last night, I definitely felt differently about it. I should stop thinking about my rifle as an AR-15 (type), and start thinking about it as a unique rifle with qualities and requirements unique to any other rifle.
I'll continue to cultivate my appreciation for my rifle in practice and hope to impress myself the next time I head out to the desert.