There are times when you'll be standing or walking with a long gun for a while and you don't expect to be using it imminently. Maybe it's on your early-morning walk in to your treestand or duck blind, or maybe you're standing around the range or club waiting for your turn to shoot, and there's no gun rack available.
In these cases, a sling is the most comfortable way to carry the gun. Proper carry of a shotgun or rifle serves two main purposes. First and foremost is safety — a proper carry position will keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times. Second is comfort — it allows you to cover some distance with the gun without wearing out your arm, as you might if you kept the gun at high-ready for a long hike.
Most American shooters and hunters sling a gun in the (what else) American carry position, where the gun is slung over your strong arm, behind your back, with the muzzle pointed up. This is a natural and relatively easy position, but if your shoulder starts to ache or you just want that strong arm freed up for something else, you can switch to what's called European carry. In this position, the gun is slung on your support arm with the gun in front of you, muzzle pointing up.
European carry is quick to get in and out of if you need to be ready to shoot unexpectedly. It can give your strong-side muscles a break, and once you get used to it, it can be mentally comforting to have your muzzle within your sight at all times.
Here, Gunsite Academy instructor Il Ling New demonstrates proper European carry technique.