I believe that cross legged is the most popular option for sitting. Among the military folks I know, they seem to favor cross legged. Cross legged position works really well with a rifle that has a vertical pistol grip. That may explain why the military shooters like this position. If you recall from my offhand article, it is a theory of mine that the vertical grips encourage the firing side elbow to drop. This makes it easy to plant that elbow down in front of the knee. With a more traditional style of stock, it can be a bit more difficult to get the elbow planted.
The big advantage to the cross legged position is that it is very comfortable and stable if you can get into it right. The big disadvantage is that it’s not always readily possible to get into it right. That can be quite a disadvantage.
Sometimes, it just takes persistence and time to find the right way into the position. One thing that I’ve found that really matters is which leg gets crossed in front of the other. The support side leg should go around/in front of the firing side leg. Another helpful tip is to orient the support side arm how you want it, then try to find a way to mate it to your support side knee. Next, find a reasonable place to plant your firing side elbow/flat of arm. Just remember to keep the point of the elbow off of the point of the knee.
Let’s get into the cross legged sitting position from standing.
First, cross your support side foot in front of your firing side foot. Yes, it matters which leg goes in front.
Next, drop to the ground into a cross legged position. If you’re old enough, you probably call this “Indian style”. If your younger, you probably call it “criss-cross applesauce”.
Now, place your elbows appropriately and commence firing if necessary…
One thing to avoid is using muscle to keep your knees up to your elbows. If you need to raise your knees, bring the points of contact of the lower legs (where they cross) farther down towards the ankles. This uses your weight with the leverage and friction of the position to raise your knees. It might hurt a little (hint: try it with boots rather than shoes). Another point would be to bend at the waist as much as you can. Lower is more stable.
It took me a while before I could get into what felt like a decent cross legged position with the Sako 75. I’ve gotten there easy with an AR carbine; I shot about 200 rounds in cross legged with a loop sling from my tailgate at a steel target at 300 yards. When it got too dark to see the target I finally had to stop. That was really fun. AR’s have ergonomics that naturally lend themselves to use with the cross legged sitting position. The more vertical pistol grip naturally brings the elbow down to the knee. The compactness of the position brings the nose to the charging handle. The higher than normal sights fit very well with the position.
I went to the range and awkwardly got into position. My eye relief was really close. I could tell I was going to get whacked, but since it was for posterity, what could I do? During the first five shots, I got whacked a few and on some I didn’t. On shot six, I got nailed, and I nailed the bull (dead center call- slightly low in reality). Lots of blood flowing now, but hey, posterity right? Shot 9 opened the wound a little further. By shot ten I had this:
I’ve never been much of a fan of this position, except with AR’s. After losing a fight with my scope, and shooting a group that pleasantly surprised me, I’ll say that if I needed to take a shot that begged for the characteristics of this stance for whatever reason I would use it and take the hit, but only if no other position would do the job as well.
In comparison to open leg and crossed ankle, this position is slow and awkward for me. It’s a lot harder to locate NPA. This probably had a lot to do with the eye relief. Maybe taking the time to find it made this string a little more successful than the more comfortable positions. Also, the eye relief with this position is just horrible if you have your scope set up for any other positions, like offhand. About 2/3 of my ocular lens is shaded in this position.