In this month’s blog, we explore the impressive career path of Jamie Holland, who started his working life at Rigby as an apprentice gunmaker eight years ago and now leads the production team inside the Rigby workshop.
Jamie, as the production manager at Rigby could you provide me with an overview of what your day-to-day role involves?
It’s mainly overseeing each rifle’s journey through the company. This involves some customer interaction, guiding them in making decisions about their rifle’s intricate details, and offering advice on their choices. I also manage the workshop team and aim to ensure timely production to Rigby standards.
You started at Rigby back in 2015 as an apprentice. Can you share some memorable experiences and moments from your journey?
One moment that stands out in my mind is the unexpected encounter I had with a Sheikh while I was still working in the workshop. I was tasked with delivering some optics to him at his hotel, and to my surprise, he kindly invited me to sit down and have tea with him. We spent a good half hour discussing calibres, long-distance rifle shooting, and different bullet types. It was quite an experience, especially as I wasn’t quite expecting it or dressed for the occasion, and there I was sitting in a five-star hotel restaurant.
Tell us a little more about your career progression at Rigby.
It has been both challenging and rewarding. I started as an apprentice rifle maker, before gradually transitioning to roles that allowed me to develop customer-facing skills and manage aspects of our website and web sales. After that, I worked as a production assistant for a year, before taking on my current role as production manager.
What has been your favourite role within the company?
I find my role as production manager to be the most fulfilling. It allows me to interact with everyone, from the workshop team to our valued customers. This dynamic experience allows me to gain a comprehensive understanding of the entire process and the people involved.
What do you find most exciting about the work happening within the workshop today?
One of the most exciting aspects of the work happening within the workshop currently is our commitment to training the next generation of gunmakers through the Rigby Academy. We’re actively shaping the future by passing on our expertise and knowledge to new talents, ensuring that the legacy of Best gunmaking endures.
Can you describe the production process of Rigby gunmaking, from the initial concept to the finished product, and your role in overseeing it?
The production process at Rigby is a meticulous journey. It all begins with receiving the customer’s order and, if it is something speciality, ordering parts like barrelled actions from specialised makers. There’s a lot of communication with making sure they are a specific size action for the calibre chosen and things like that. I also make sure we follow tailored customer requirements, such as barrel length or any extras they may want, but if it’s more of a standard order like a .416 or .275 Rigby, we tend to have those in the workshop, ready to start assembling. Once the order is in the workshop, I coordinate its journey, slotting it into the production plan to meet our delivery commitments.
My role also involves keeping the customer informed about the progress and navigating any challenges that may arise in the workshop. The goal is to facilitate the process from start to finish, ensuring that each gun meets our standards.
Afterward, I’m still involved in the process by taking Best guns to the range where I perform initial test shooting, ensuring that iron sights are adjusted correctly, scope mounts are secure, and everything is in order. I also handle the final test shooting, regulating and zeroing the gun for the customer.
What’s the current turnaround time for rifles or guns at Rigby?
The turnaround time depends on the complexity of the order. For relatively simple bolt-action rifles, it’s around 18 to 24 months. More intricate orders, such as highly engraved rifles, may take longer, while double rifles can take around four to five years.
What are your goals for the future?
My goal is to see how far I can go in my career at Rigby. I’ve already progressed further than I initially expected, so I want to continue growing and making meaningful contributions to Rigby’s legacy in fine gunmaking.
You mentioned your desire to stalk red deer in the Highlands in our previous conversation. Did that happen, and do you have any other hunting trips planned?
I did get the opportunity to go stalking red deer when we launched the Highland Stalker rifle. While I didn’t shoot anything, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. As for future hunting trips, I don’t have any plans yet, but I would love to go on a hunting trip to Africa.