Crossed ankle has been my sitting position of choice when the hits really count. My ability to actually get into cross legged sitting tends to be unreliable. While open legged is comfortable, it doesn’t seem as stable to me. Crossed ankle seems to get the job done pretty reliably.
The problem with crossed ankle sitting is that it seldom seems to be taught correctly. Even in Cooper’s book, it just isn’t right. I usually see it presented (incorrectly) as sort of a cross between open leg sitting and cross leg sitting. The common error is too short and too high of a position, and the legs being muscled up to meet the elbows. This relies on your adductor muscles to support your stance, then you need a special massage like Al Gore. For a really detailed and sound description, I recommend Jim Owens’ book Leather Sling and Shooting Positions. Or your could just keep reading and I’ll do my best.
Like the other sitting positions, you’ll be on your rear (duh!!!). Unlike the other positions, you’ll be more square to the target. I would estimate about half the normal angle will work, at least it seems like it. Straighten your legs in front of you with your knees locked.
Now bend your knees until you can rotate your feet outward making them flat.
Now cross your support side ankle over your firing side ankle (yes is does matter which one goes over which).
Now that you’ve got your lower body set, let’s get the upper body into position. You should know by now where the flat of your support arm is. What you need to learn now is where the corresponding flat of the support leg is. Find the point of your knee, then work down to where the doctor tests your reflexes. Now go to the inside about 20-30° and down about the width of your hand. There is a nice big, flat, bony depression, like a lake bed. The flat of your arm fits nicely in that depression.
The blue circle indicates the approximate location of the “flat of the leg”. I realize now that I should have used an “X” to mark the spot.
You might look down at your legs and think that it’s a mighty long way to fit the flat of the arm to the flat of the leg. It does seem like that. I’m not a flexible person (a long way from being able to touch my toes). This actually works in my favor. If you think your body can take it, to get there just take a big lunge forward with the upper body and stick your elbow where it goes. If you can get it there, you’ll probably find that the elasticity of your hamstring and back muscles holds everything together nicely.
Your firing side elbow can either go in front of your knee, or you can plant it just behind the knobby section of muscle that is above and to the inside of your knee.
You’ll notice that this probably looks different than the way you’ve been shown crossed ankle sitting. I think that’s because people who don’t use it have been teaching it because it’s required. It’s a longer stance than any of the other sitting positions, which gives it more natural structural resistance to recoil. It also means that if you do this position properly, it’s probably very low, almost as low as prone.
You may complain at first after contorting your way into the crossed ankle sitting position, “Rifleslinger, my rifle is pointed at the ground.” This is normal for beginners, and means that you didn’t lunge far enough. Get that upper body bent forward and down!
If you followed along with my description and got into position (of course you did, ’cause you’re obviously really smart ‘n stuff), the process of getting into position probably didn’t happen too fast. Let’s speed it up a bit by falling into place.
Standing, ready to move into the sitting position…
Green Dragon wards off while Crane Monk sinks and M14 stock is bridled in a 1907 sling… is kung fu talk for fall down and keep a hand ready to catch yourself.
I’ve fallen and I can’t get up… until I shoot something.
Cross the support side ankle over the firing side ankle.
Strong hand on rifle butt and prepare to launch the upper body forward.
Land the flat of the arm on the flat of the leg.
Get a grip and prepare to commence firing.
Crossed Ankle Sitting as viewed from above. Note the angle of feet to muzzle.
Here’s what happened for me from 300 yards:
That equals 3.4 MOA. Not bad, not great. I expected a smaller group, but I’m learning slowly to deal with disappointment (and reality).
After using all three positions this month, I like this one a lot for its steadiness. Although I shot better using the cross legged sitting position (upcoming article), this one is a lot faster and easier for me to use. I also just had a better range day when I shot cross legged. Cross ankle also works well with scopes, because your eye is not mashed into the ocular lens; I can actually get the correct eye relief for my scope with this position. If I needed a sitting position on level ground, crossed ankle would be my first choice.