The great war leader and renowned sportsman Winston Churchill was an enthusiastic game shot, both at home in the UK and abroad, including Africa where he hunted big game as a diplomat. Much less has been written about his guns, but in this article Mark Murray-Flutter corrects that omission and takes a look at Churchill’s remarkable personal armoury.
Churchill’s first taste of battle came at the age of 21 when he was attached to the 21st Lancers and watched British gunboats bombard Dervish forts. The Mahdists were using 50 rifles in their gun embrasures but the better-trained British guns quickly smashed them all, and Churchill had the thrill of witnessing this firsthand.
As an adult he would enjoy hunting wild birds and pigeons on his estate at Chartwell, but when it came to shooting clays he was perhaps most famous for writing the classic book The Churchill Method. It has remained an essential truth to the sport ever since it was published in 1955, and a few years later it was revised and updated by Churchill’s friend and renowned shooting coach Macdonald Hastings.
Although there are a number of different methods to engage a target, the Churchill approach is based on economy of movement and elegant, efficient gun mounting. Unlike many other shooting methods that are often rushed into in an attempt to ‘become a better shooter’, Churchill’s mount and swing, though appearing visually slow, are in fact extremely efficient.
This is because the swing is a natural extension of our ability to point, while the mount itself happens very fast and is done in a way that doesn’t require the shooter to move his or her head much at all. Moreover, the method doesn’t place any stress on the shoulder and is surprisingly stable, even for experienced shooters.
It is perhaps this combination of simplicity, efficiency and stability that has made the Churchill method so popular. It is a technique that isn’t stifled by the demands of modern technology, and it can be practised almost anywhere.
In a world where people are constantly searching for new ways to improve their shooting, the Churchill method stands as a timeless reminder that good habits and fundamentals are all a shooter needs to take his or her game to the next level. It is this approach that has helped make E.J. Churchill what it is today – the only field sports brand in the UK with its own gunmakers, shooting ground, sporting agency, country outfitters and events business all under one roof – and which continues to inspire passionate young shooters of all levels to pursue their passion. The brand is proud to be celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. For more information about this and other Churchill products Churchill shooting