The Churchill shooting method is an essential truth that remains as relevant today as it was 60 years ago. Before anyone goes off on one of the countless rabbit holes available to shooters in search of the latest target engagement method, it would be well for them to read Robert Churchill’s quintessential book, Game Shooting.
The late Churchill’s wingshooting expertise spanned more than three centuries, but he was best known for his ability to withstand the worst that the world could throw at him. He earned the nickname “Mad Jack” for his utter disregard of danger. In one legendary story, a demolition charge exploded so close to him that it blew up a wall he was leaning on, and a chunk of glass slashed across his forehead.
Churchill’s ability to endure danger and thrive made him a natural for the military, where he fought with distinction throughout his life. He won his first military cross during the retreat to the Channel, when he hitched six trucks together to salvage a disabled British tank. He won another during the Battle of Maaaloy, when a German machine gun pinned him to his horse and he had to crawl through the open undergrowth to safety. He later won a third military cross during the battle for the Suez Canal, when his horse was shot and he had to crawl through enemy fire to remount it.
After Churchill left the military in 1945, he founded E.J. Churchill Ltd, a multi-faceted business that included a country clothing store, a sporting agency, a gunmaker and an events company. The company still exists under his son’s stewardship and now claims to be the only shooting business in the UK with its own ground, a gunmaking workshop, an on-site coaching staff and its own brand of Churchill branded shotguns.
As a teenager Churchill began his career working in the family business, and learned all about game guns at the grouse moors and driven game estates of England. He mastered the art of instinctive wingshooting, writing the definitive book on it that became the standard in his time. It was re-edited and updated twice by his friend Macdonald Hastings, a renowned shooting coach, who also wrote several other books on the subject.
The Churchill Method is based on the economical movement of the body, an elegant, efficient gun mounting technique that aligns the eye with the rib of the barrels and, most importantly, the natural ability of the gun to point itself naturally at a moving target. The lead is built up automatically, and the moment that the comb of the stock comes up under the cheekbone, with your eyes squarely focused on the target, simply squeeze the trigger.
Winston Churchill was also an aficionado of Britain’s signature SMG, the Sten gun and its successor, the Thompson. He favored the latter and is famously photographed in pinstripes smoking a cigar and clutching the.45 caliber model with drum magazine and pistol grip fore-end. Adolf Hitler hated Churchill with a vengeance that was exceeded only by the British Prime Minister’s own ferocity, and Hitler used the photo of Churchill with his Thompson to claim that the British leader was merely a stereotype American gangster.