In a famous photo, Winston Churchill wears a pinstripe suit and chomps on an ever-present cigar as he holds a.45 caliber Thompson submachine gun with a pistol grip fore-end. Adolf Hitler despised Churchill with a vengeance exceeded only by his own passion for firearms, and he used the Thompson picture to denigrate the English leader. Churchill liked his automatic weapon, and it is true that he was a skilled marksman.
But Churchill also used his skills as a commander to great effect. He was a leader in commanding British forces during the Boer War and he led them to victory on the battlefield, winning the Military Cross, one of the highest awards that the military can bestow upon its troops.
Churchill commanded his men with an almost dictatorial hand and made no exceptions about what was expected of them. He had a reputation as being one of the most tough-minded of all British leaders and he was feared by his enemies. Several stories circulate about incidents that demonstrate this toughness. One account, attributed to Churchill himself in a biography written after the war, describes him as being attacked by a group of Boer marksmen who fired on him from a distance and he returned fire with a single shot that killed one markman and wounded another.
A second story that is less well known about Churchill tells how he was saved from capture when a demolition charge accidentally exploded near where he happened to be leaning on a wall. Another account credited to Churchill in his memoirs says that a demolition man accidentally blew up a building which happened to be behind where he was standing.
The Churchill method of wing shooting is now taught by world class instructors like Keith Coyle who teaches at Green Acres Sportsman’s Club in Illinois. The method uses “instinctive wing shooting,” a practice that requires the shooter to focus hard on the bird and then trust in his eyes and hands to move the gun where it needs to go. It also uses matching the speed of the gun with the speed of the bird, a practice called “matching lead.”
Robert Churchill, son of E.J., took over the family company after his uncle died in 1910 and he refocused it on sporting guns. He de-emphasized the longer barrels that his grandfather had preferred for pigeon shooting and introduced the famous 25-inch barrels that are still in use today in the Churchill XXV model.
The Churchill family’s passion for the sport of shooting continues to this day with the establishment of the George Digweed Academy at the E.J. Churchill Shooting Ground in High Wycombe, England. The Academy, which launched in 2014, promotes competitive English sporting clays shooting and is run by Rob Fenwick, Managing Director of the Churchill brand. He was attracted to the idea of bringing a world-class shooter such as Digweed into the fold, but there is also a solid business motive as the Academy has been successful in increasing enrollments at the shooting ground. Churchill shooting