This variation of the sitting position is probably the most user friendly to the beginner, and also probably the most useful in the field. The reason I think it may be the most useful is that it affords more ability to adjust the elevation than the cross legged or cross ankle positions. This makes it more adaptable to hilly or mountainous terrain than most other shooting positions. Inversely, it seems to me that in general, this position is less precise on flat terrain than cross legged or crossed ankle.
To assume the open leg sitting position from facing square to your target, turn towards your firing hand side approximately 30°-45°. Now sit. Good dog. Keep your feet, with soles planted firmly on the ground, somewhat apart from each other. To start with on level ground, keep your feet at a distance that puts your knees at about mid chest level.
If you can’t keep the soles of your feet on the ground, just do your best. If your sitting on a decline, you should have no problem. Likewise, if your aiming at something higher up, say, on a hill, it should be pretty easy. The problem may come in if you’re on level ground shooting with your muzzle relatively level. It takes some flexibility.
This position naturally lends itself to shooting at high targets.
Open leg seated also works very well for shooting from a downward sloping surface. Yes I created a privacy barrier to make this a family friendly photo.
The best way to fine tune the location of your feet, and by extension, knees, is to figure out first where you want your hands, elbows, and by extension, your muzzle to go, and then place your feet and knees where they will be most supportive. Remember, you are looking for the structure of your position rather than your muscles to be doing the work. Se up your position so that gravity actually helps settle and steady everything into place, keeping your muzzle steady.
Your support side elbow should be as close to directly under the rifle as you can get it. When you relax and inhale your muzzle will drop with your inhalation. Does it drop at an angle, or straight down, then straight back up as you exhale? If it drops at an angle, the position of your elbow is very likely not properly supporting the rifle.
Speaking of elbows, you should remember from my article on the kneeling position that you will not be placing the point of your elbow on the ball of the knee. Placing the flat of your arm on your knee is workable. In this case, placing the flat of your arm in direct contact with the flat area just below your knee may be much better. It depends a lot on how you can contort your body.
Remember that the flat of your arm is what sits on your knee, not the elbow.
Arrange your firing side foot, knee, and elbow so that everything on that side is well supported. Don’t try too much to make both sides symmetrical. Your not trying to be a bipod. Your support hand under the rifle is what primarily supports the weight of the rifle and keeps it steady. The job of your firing side is to actuate the trigger. I would begin at the end again (it’s one of the seven habits of highly effective people). Place your trigger finger where you want it, such that the only part of the rifle that it touches is the trigger, and the only part of your finger in contact with the rifle is the pad or tip of the finger. Place everything else such that nothing else that you have arranged so far gets messed up. Wasn’t that easy?
To adjust your elevation, you can move your feet forward or backward. You can also move your support hand forward or backward. To adjust your windage, move your feet in whatever direction you want your muzzle to go.
To get a baseline level of precision available to me using open legged sitting, I decided to choose a location that would favor this position; I sat on a small knoll. It was even grassy.
I shot from 300 yards. Here’s what happened:
One of my shots missed the entire board. It went left due to me bucking (anticipating recoil by pushing my shoulder forward as the shot broke pushing the shot left). I wasn’t too pleased with this, as I know that my hold in this position is better than that. So I did it again from the same spot:
The recoil didn’t bother me during this session, despite what happened during the cross leg sitting string of fire, which you’ll see on the morning of September 20th if my schedule goes to plan (if it doesn’t I know there will be millions of disappointed readers). My group could have been better, but this is what I did so I’m stuck with it until next time. 3.5 MOA is acceptable to me, but I’m not thrilled.
My impression of this position after using it, along with the other orthodox variations of the sitting positions for a month, is that the things that make it useful as a field position make it somewhat difficult to use as a target position, which is essentially what I was doing. There’s a lot more room in this position for variation in the height at which one can aim. That seems to make it more difficult to get it just right. Because the position feels comfortable and natural, it’s also “looser” and less “locked in”. There seems to be a lot more natural tendency for the rifle to move side to side, and it’s harder to locate a fixed NPA. A lot of this will improve with more work.