Sitting Positions

Sitting is my best position. It offers me almost all of the stability of prone, but gets me up and off the ground. If I were a hunter, I imagine sitting would be my go-to position for most shots at a reasonable distance. There are three primary variations on the traditional sitting position, and the choice of which will largely be determined by body mechanics. The three variations are open leg, crossed ankle, and crossed leg.

Open Leg Sitting


The open leg sitting position is characterized by sitting and spreading the legs wide and placing them out front. The shooter should point their toes as far forward as they can, and maybe dig the heels in a bit. The shooter should lean as far forward as possible, and keep the elbows inside the knees. Remember to use the flat of the elbow is possible to brace, as it offers the most stability. In the above picture, I am not leaning in particularly far, which means I have some work to do. Failure to lean into the position creates instability, as both the wind and recoil of the rifle will cause the shooter to sway.

I did not particularly care for the open leg position at first. However, it does offer the most practical adjustment for elevation.  The other sitting positions are geared towards targets that are directly in front of, and relatively level, to the shooter. The open leg position allows the shooter to incline the rifle and shoot at objects that are up a hill, for instance.

At first, I did not open my legs wide enough to provide stability. I ended up relying on the stitching in the crotch of my pants to provide stability. However, I have now realized that the trick is in the forward lean. Using this position, I have been able to get consistent its on a steel chest-sized target up to 400 yards away and significantly elevated. I believe it is the most practical for combat and fast-paced competitive shooting.

Crossed Ankle Sit


Crossed ankle sit is primarily characterized by extending the legs out in front of the body, and crossing the support side ankle on top of the shooting side. This is important, as it raises the support side knee and provides a good base to place the elbow. Again, the flat of the support elbow should be under the rifle, and hooked onto the hollow of the knee. The shooting side elbow is rested against the inside of the shooting side knee. A good lean forward is essential.

Like other sitting positions, the NPOA is adjusted by pivoting the butt on the ground for windage. I have found that adjusting my feet position (closer or further) helps roughly adjust elevation, though not nearly as much as can be done with open leg sitting. My goal is to not have to move my support hand.

When I first started experimenting with this position, I thought it was absolutely necessary to have the feet all the way out, as shown in the above picture. However, I have come to find that it is perhaps a little better to play with the position of the feet until a comfortable balance is found. By bringing my feet just a little bit closer, I have attained a much better and more stable position for me. I think my relatively good performance from this position, as opposed to the other sitting positions, is due to the weight of my legs out front providing a very good counterbalance to any wind or recoil effects.

To date, my best field position group ever has been done from the crossed ankle sit. I find it nearly as stable as prone.

Crossed Leg Sit


The crossed leg sit is the natural result of taking the crossed ankle and bringing the feet all the way in. It is, more or less, sitting “Indian Style.” The principles are the same. The shooter needs to lean into the position as much as possible in order to build stability. The support side elbow should rest on the hollow of the knee, and the firing elbow can be buried in the crook of the shooting side knee.

I have a problem with this position, and I still haven’t figured out why. My estimation is that it is not great for people with long torsos and arms. The position naturally makes the shooter “low,” but I can only bend so far from my back before I get very unstable. Additionally, the lack of leverage out front makes me very susceptible to wind, recoil, or any other potentially destabilizing force.



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