XXXI. On standing and sitting for aiming
Part 2 of 2
The oblique position of standing for the aim consists of presenting the left shoulder and left leg toward the mark, with the left fingers and toes in line with it, while the right leg is planted behind the left, firm and straight, and is separated from it by about the length of a cubit. This is an extremely good position for a warrior or for one who is climbing a hill or a mound or an elevation in the earth, since his legs would then correspond to his gait uphill, and, in the event of his tripping over a stone, he will then lean on his right leg.
Another way is exactly the opposite, wherein the archer extends his left leg and bears on the right, which he may move for walking. This method is good for an archer going down hill and is the reverse of the former method used for going up hill. In either case, the feet should be about a cubit's length apart.
The frontal position, or direct facing of the target, consists in standing straight opposite the target, with the feet about a palm [four inches] apart, or perhaps a little less. This position is known as the Khusruwani, and is good for a near target, trick shooting, and weak bows, because it offers a great deal of accuracy, though it is not so deadly as the other types.
The position halfway between the frontal and the oblique consists in putting forward the left arm toward the target, without either facing it frontally or obliquely, and aligning the target with the left eye, while the feet are about a span apart and the left is planted a little ahead of the right. This is by far the best standing position for warfare as well as for other purposes.
In sitting for aim there are also three positions: acute oblique, frontal, and in between. There are, however, five different manners of sitting.
One is to plant your feet apart and squat upon them while your legs [i.e., from ankle to knee] remain erect, spreading your knees somewhat as you bear down on your thighs. This position is the basis of all other sitting postures, and is good and suitable for all methods of shooting, namely, the oblique, the frontal, and the in between. It is used by most archers in Khurasan, Egypt, and other lands. Another is to fold your right limb, planting its knee in the ground, hold your left leg [ankle to knee] erect, and sit leaning upon the left thigh. This posture was used by most of the ancient Persians and is that of the fleeing archer, or one who stealthily approaches his enemy or prey. If he views what he can shoot, he shoots it; otherwise he flees, starting from his left leg.
Still another is the exact reverse of the preceding posture, namely, to fold your left limb, planting its knee into the ground, hold your right leg erect and lean upon the right thigh. This is a good posture, especially for aiming with a strong bow, and is particularly suitable for beginners.
Another is one which resembles the standing posture and is called "the competitor's seat" (jalsat almuthāqif). It consists in bending the left leg [limb] with the knee toward the ground and keeping the right leg unbent, while the feet are separated by as much as the length of the shin bone, or a little less. Throughout the operation, the right leg offers the main support. This is indeed a good posture and is used by most of the archers of Andalusia.
Another posture is to sit with crossed legs facing the target. It is a good posture for near targets, trick shooting, and weak bows only, and is called "the king's posture."
Every manner of standing for shooting consists in keeping the legs straight and erect, without inclining either the body or the head, and without throwing either hip to the side or the buttocks backward.