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The Churchill Method – my favorite quotes from the man himself

By December 25, 2010 One Comment

In this article, Don shares excerpts from Robert Churchill’s quintessential work, “Game Shooting”.  Now 60 years after it was first published, his work is largely misunderstood yet, in the minds many (including Don), it remains the gold standard………………………

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Here are some of my favorite quotes from the 1st edition copy (signed) of Robert Churchill’s quintessential work, “Game Shooting” first published in 1955. “Robert Churchill, who died in 1958, was the latest, perhaps the last, of the great gunmakers of London” wrote his friend MacDonald Hastings in the jacket of the second revised edition of the book. In addition to being a famous London gunmaker and a respected ballistics expert, he was perhaps one of the greatest shooting instructors of his day.   He was the first to teach, and certainly the first to describe in any substantive form, the system of shooting moving targets without regard to forward allowance but rather “by trusting the sureness of the eye and the smoothness of the body action to bring the gun on to the mark.”  As Hastings further wrote, “The essence of the Churchill’s method is that he taught his pupils to swing on to the bird; to trust the unerring ability of the eye to make the necessary forward allowance, and to leave it to the gun to do the rest.”

Top shots and bird hunters alike have been effectively employing this system for about the last century. It is the only method that leverages our God-given instinctive hand-eye coordination, is completely transferable between clay target sports and upland bird hunting, and is easily adopted by novice shooters. For the rifle and pistol shooter accustomed to aiming at stationery targets, the concept of pointing at a moving target verses aiming at a stationary one is perhaps the single-most difficult transition to make. Just as a baseball player catches an outfield fly ball or a golfer connects with a golf ball by focusing exclusively on the ball, so the focus of the sporting clays and wing shooter must be exclusively on the object being intercepted.

Without further adieu, here are my favorite quotes from Churchill:

*”In practice the shooter should not be conscious of his muzzle, the rib or sight. His eye, or rather his attention, should be fully occupied with the bird, and, if he holds his gun properly, he will hit whatever he is looking at.”

*”Dismiss all ideas of calculated allowances.”

*”It is high time that the whole allowance system was deposited in the waste paper basket. It is not practical and it establishes an entirely false foundation of thought at the back of the shooters mind.”

*”Your job is to keep your eye on the bird; forget all you ever knew about the thousands of different allowances and the thousands of varieties of shots and let your eye and the natural overthrow of the gun take care of everything else.”

*”All systems founded on allowances are inherently unstable and unscientific. Indeed, it is only in the sport of shooting that the matter even arises. I have never heard the question raised in any other form of game where the hitting of a moving object, such as a ball, is involved.”

*”In my method there is no question of trying to compute muzzle movement, allowance, or any other complicated matter. All I ask you to do is to look at the bird and, by correct mounting and body work, shoot naturally without constraint or effort apparently [seemingly] straight at the bird; but subconsciously, overthrowing a little and so giving the necessary lead or compensation for time flight”

*”When I say ‘look at the bird,’ I mean it. You must glue your eyes to it, focus it and see nothing else.”

My copy of Robert Churchill’s first edition (signed) of Game Shooting, as well as the second revised edition (tabbed and dog-eared), will forever occupy a prominent spot in my library of most treasured sporting and game shooting chronicles.  To learn more about how to employ the Churchill Method in sporting clays and game shooting, go to the Tips and Techniques section of ClayTargetInstructor.com or contact me for a lesson.

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Don Currie is a certified NSCA Level III Instructor, Associate of the Institute of Clay Target Instructors, former US Army Infantry School and Ranger School Instructor, Master Class sporting clays competitor and an NSCA National Delegate. He is an instructor at the Orvis Wing Shooting School, is an avid upland bird hunter and is passionate about shooting and outdoor sports. He lives and works in Central Florida with his wife and three children and instructs clay target sports throughout the state of Florida. To learn more about the Focus-Movement-Faith System or the mental game, go to www.DonCurrie.com, e-mail Don at HERE or connect with him on Facebook.

© 2010 – Don Currie – All rights reserved.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Ken Parker says:

    I’m very interested in the Churchill method, it sounds great. I’m a bit confused does the fps of a shell change anything?

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