Position Analysis: Open Leg Sitting

After testing an array of supported positions, it was time to lose the support.  With the supported positions I started low to the ground and worked my way up to standing.  I decided to do basically the same thing with the unsupported positions.

I did not test unsupported prone.  I’m not saying I’ll never use it, but the only times I have used it were when I was required to use it, mostly at Appleseeds.  If/when I fire up the X15 again I’d like to give magazine monopod prone a go, but for the purposes of this test I stuck with positions that I’m more likely to use with the rifle I used for the tests.

A seated position seemed most fitting to start with, and I can hardly think of a more worthy variation of sitting to begin with than the open leg position.  I wasn’t certain how much time I would have and how many positions I would be able to test.  Open leg sitting is not my normal choice for target shooting, but it probably handles varying terrain better than any other sitting position, maybe any other position.  It’s also the most comfortable to remain in for extended periods of time.  Not knowing if I could test more than one variation of sitting, this was the one I chose to do first.

I don’t shoot from this position often, but I tend to use it more in the field at times when I don’t get to shoot much, if at all.  I’m probably not as sharp at is as I should be in this position, but I do alright.  I did no practice or preparation for this position prior to shooting the targets below.

I did not have a photographer handy when I shot from this position.  I feel that I did an adequate description and depiction of the position in my 2011 article, so if you need to know what I’m talking about I suggest you look there.

I shot this position from a location adjacent to the southwest corner of a large shop building.  My normal shooting location was near the center of the east side of the same building.  I placed a target stand at what would be the 100 yard line from my normal shooting position.  This turned out to be 115 yards from the location I shot this position from.


I chose my shooting location for a few reasons.  It had shade and the day was hot.  There was a downward slope there, and this position is one of very few ways to shoot on a horizontal or near horizontal plane while on a downward slope.  Lastly, it was neither too close nor too far to a safe place to locate my target.

IMG_6894It’s hard to convey the downward slope, but hopefully this does.

The rifle marks my shooting location.

This was the third and final position I tested on this day.  The temperature was approximately 80 degrees.  The density altitude was approximately 4500’.  There was very little wind that day, 1-2 mph, coming from my 6:00.  Both my elevation and windage were set to 0.0.  To see my testing protocols click here.

Slow fire:

Unsupported Open Leg Sitting 1 Slow

Time Stress:

Unsupported Open Leg Sitting 2 Time Stress

Time Stress Exerted:

Unsupported Open Leg Sitting 3 Time Stress Exerted

I took a photo of my ammo condition at the start of my time stress and time stress exerted phases:


My notes from shooting indicate that my first shots were delayed in order to find my natural point of aim, and that I had “one bad trigger jerk” during my time stress exerted group.  The targets also seem to indicate some lateral instability in the position.

My groups translated to the following distances for my static, highly visible 4” target:

86- to Open Leg Sitting

Maximum Distance 99 To Open Leg Sitting

I was interested to compare the supported and unsupported sitting positions.  I averaged the precision of the 3 groups from each and compared that performance.  The unsupported groups were, on average, 50.5% as precise as the supported groups.  I’ll go into greater depth on this subject next month.  There’s a lot more to it.

Under time stress this position was 82.01% as precise as the slow fire group.  The average of all positions’ reaction to time stress was 87.86%.  Exertion did little to further upset the performance of this position, which makes sense because this position allows the shooter to relax.  The time stress exertion group was 80.27% as precise as the slow fire group.  The average effect of adding exertion in all positions was that they were 73.74% as precise as the slow fire group average.

I also did my best to keep track of times during these tests, and I think they are very revealing.  The time from the start signal for the time stress and time stress exerted groups until my first shot, which is the time it took me, from a standing position about a foot away from my rifle, to load my magazines, load the rifle, and assume a firing position, was 72.29 and 66.62 seconds respectively, averaging 69.46.  The average of all positions, for comparison, was 57.33.  I already mentioned that finding my natural point of aim seemed to take a while.  This was the second slowest time of all positions to get the first shot fired from.

The average split time for this position was 5.31 seconds.  The average time of all the positions was 6.53.  This was the second fastest position of all the positions in this test in terms of splits.  The sling support makes for a solid position to provide adequate resistance against the bolt work.  The position also provides ample reach to the bolt knob.  Sling supported positions also tend to lock the shooter into his natural point of aim, which hastens follow up shots to a stationary target.

The total times of each timed portion of the test were 144.33 and 132.97, averaging 138.65.  The average time of all the positions tested was 134.48 seconds.  That means that although my first shot was extremely slow, the faster than average split times and the ease of changing mags and single loading almost made up for it.

I will say that I was almost shocked at my 86% and 99% circle distances on a 4” target (and a target that lends itself to being shot, unlike a target one might encounter in the field).  My early contextual framework had been set to have me believe I’d be hitting targets out to 500 yards from this position.  Even if I doubled my target size (which would be a reasonable size animal vital zone) and settled for a probability of an 86% hit rate, 200 yards is stretching the limits a bit.  If one considers the possibility for things like 3D targets with vital zones that have to be interpreted from the outside, targets that move, the possibility of misestimating range or having a zero that’s not quite on, 200 yards is just too far.

I still think that open leg sitting is one of the more useful unsupported practical shooting positions.  If you can get support take it, but you won’t always be able to find it.  That being the case, many of us are in need of re-defining our effective distances.



3 thoughts on “Position Analysis: Open Leg Sitting

  1. Interesting. This is my bread-and-butter position. It allows an upright (non-canted) and horizontal rifle position when I relax, and a quick NPA adjustment, unlike the crossed leg/ankle variants. I guess I’ve been doing it for so long it just fits like the proverbial glove. It is definitely not the steadiest, but for some reason it’s always worked especially well for me, especially if I have time to get it just right and be very careful with the shots. I’ve shot some insanely small pairs and triangles on paper this way – more often than not. Missed a few coyotes this way also.
    I note for me there is a “just right” arrangement to it I have to create. Maybe with enough practice you’ll find your equivalent.

    • Pete,
      I with you on this, and agree with the moving target problem. I missed 3 shots on a running porcupine at about 50 yards this morning from this position. It’s not very forgiving if you have to pan a bit. We still tracked him into the brush and dispatched him there.

      • Hard to pan the rifle when both elbows are planted.
        My little Model 7 .243 likes to let me shoot 200 yard pairs from this position that are usually well under a minute. I think it just feels sorry for me.

        Glad to hear you emerged from the brush alive. I assume the porc wasn’t wounded, there’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded porcupine, except a wounded porcupine in the brush…

        Mongo like colored lines in posts. Mongo no like porcupine and mustard. Mongo no like porcupine without mustard, either.

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