What did a morning on the stands with the multi-winning world champion teach his students?
Would you like to be taught to shoot by George Digweed MBE? Who wouldn’t?
- He is the winner of 26 world titles and over 150 international titles.
- He is unequalled in the shooting world and his accomplishments extend beyond clayshooting
- He is considered one of the finest game shots in the country.
Of course, George can’t teach everybody how to shoot. But over the past 18 months he has been working closely with handpicked instructors at EJ Churchill to teach them ‘The George Digweed’ method – a very different approach and a method of shooting that has seen him dominate the sport for over 35 years. It’s a way of sharing his skills and approach.
Learning the George Digweed way
A group of us were invited along to the EJ Churchill ground in late June for a briefing and some instruction with George Digweed-trained coaches, under the watchful eye of Mr Digweed himself.
Split into groups we proceeded along to the clay stands. George started off by checking eye dominance, using a card with a hole cut in it.
To address a problem master eye he used a patch to block a small spot on the lens of safety glasses.
Shooting with one eye closed isn’t recommended, he said, pointing out that you can’t catch a ball that way. If you use both eyes you will judge speed and distance better.
To make the point he singled out Phil Unwin, MD of Ruag Ammotec who hadn’t been out in the clay field ‘for a long time’.
George then put a small sticky patch on Phil’s safety glasses. He advised that it needs to be big enough to block out the pupil and placed precisely so it blocks the left eye’s view past the bead when the gun is mounted.
Phil dry mounted his gun and said that it wasn’t noticeable – but he still had both eyes on the target.
What about footwork? This is when the George Digweed shooting method really comes into play.
“Balance is everything,” he comments.
- Place your feet far enough apart, with your weight evenly distributed
- Make sure they are aligned according to the line of the target so that your shoulders remain square when you swing
- You will be almost side-on to the target.
- Transfer your weight onto the back foot when you swing and push your front hip forward into the shot.
- The gun will stay on line, your swing will be steady and you’ll be able to go further back without losing balance.
George said that his own method developed as he watched top shots as he was growing up. He noticed that they all shot off the back foot and transferred their weight. That way your body works with you.
What about lead?
- George says that if your hand-eye co-ordination is right, lead is irrelevant. It’s all about gun speed. Swing through the target from behind and shoot as you pass the front edge.
- You can adjust your gun speed with the gun hold point and where the hand is positioned on the fore-end.
- George also recommends looking at a specific point on the target – not the whole target.
- Start with the gun just out of the shoulder, and don’t move until the target is past the barrels – don’t go back to meet it.
Shooting a 12 straight
So how did Phil Unwin get on with this method? He said: “ I haven’t wanted to shoot flying ashtrays for a long time but I’ve had an enjoyable time. In fact this is the first time I’ve shot a 12 straight!”
So the George Digweed Academy teaching is obviously working for him.
Afterwards over lunch George said: “It is wonderful to have an opportunity where people can come and shoot a different method and to be able to showcase what I have learnt and perfected over the last 30 years.”
Rob Fenwick, manager of EJ Churchill adds: “We are immensely proud to be hosting The E.J. Churchill George Digweed Academy.”
George’s method is suitable for both clay and gameshooters and lessons at EJ Churchill are available for all abilities.
Top tip from George Digweed
Stay hydrated when you’re shooting. The champion says he is amused by people who go out pheasant shooting the day after the night before, when they’re drinking beer and wine and then “nobody can hit anything because they’re massively dehydrated and the timing is not good.” So stay off the booze until after your shoot day is finished.