For the first Campfire blog of the new year, we caught up with Rigby’s CEO Marc Newton to find out what he considers to be the highlights of 2022 and what we can expect from the company in the next 12 months.
How has the year started for you? And, if you had to pick just one, what was your highlight from 2022?
The new year has started as fast and furious as ever, as we jump back into a very busy show season. It’s always a wonderful way to start the year, catching up with everyone and showcasing all the new products we have coming out of the Rigby workshop. The first quarter of every year is very, very busy in that regard but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s incredibly tough to pick one highlight from 2022 as it was another superb year for Rigby – I must mention that we finished a number of exceptional rifles for people which you can view on our website or on our social media feeds. However, if I absolutely must pick one highlight from last year it has to be the Rigby Dagga Boy Award. This is something I hold very close to my heart, as it not only promoted ethical hunting, encouraging hunters to value age over ‘inches’, but also generates enormous amounts of scientific data to help support a stronger population of all six species of African buffalo. We pride ourselves on doing something different here at Rigby, and this is an excellent example of that ethos in action.
Tell us how the Dallas Safari Club Convention went, what were the highlights this year? Is demand staying strong in the USA for Rigby products?
It was a phenomenal show and demand in North America remains very strong this year. The highlight must be the reaction to our new box lock rifle, the Shikari. We took it despite not planning to officially launch it at the show, it was more of a behind the scenes look for a few people… so naturally, everyone found out about it, and we took significant orders! It’s called the Shikari which is a historic term for a hunter/adventurer in India, a theme that has long been synonymous with Rigby as a company, so I think it’s a most fitting name for the new box lock. The Shikari rifle will be available in a range of big bore and dangerous game calibres, and I know the whole team can’t wait to be able to share them with a wider audience.
What other shows will Rigby be attending in early 2023?
We’ve just got back from the Jagd & Hund show in Dortmund and in late February we’ll be heading back over the pond to attend the Safari CIub International Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. We always showcase the latest Rigby guns at these shows so naturally we will be taking the new Shikari box lock rifle with us to Nashville. A lot of people’s interest was piqued by the Shikari rifle at DSC, so I expect the Rigby stand to be a popular place at SCI too.
Are the gunsmiths and/or engravers working on anything at the moment that’s caught your eye?
It’s honestly not possible to pick one notable thing from the workshop at any given time as everything is unique, customised and of incredible quality. It’s what we do… However, I can share that the team are in the process of finishing a set of three take down bolt-action rifles which are spectacular. They are a gift for a customer’s wife which makes me so proud. There are lots of ladies out there with a passion for Rigby and these rifles will make an amazing gift – I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to delivering them to her.
Is there anything bubbling behind the scenes at Rigby that you can share with us?
I am delighted to share that we were so bowled away by the quality of the entries for the Dagga Boy Awards that we wanted to find a way to share them with all the passionate hunters around the world. They are being compiled into a book as I write this, so I urge people to keep an eye out for that in the near future. I can tell you that picking it up will lose you hours of time as you get completely absorbed in the stories, each told in the hunter’s individual voice.
We also have some exciting news for our customers and followers who particularly appreciate the flawless work of our engravers and workshop team, as we are launching the first ever Rigby Objet d’art collection. This will encompass limited edition and one-of-a-kind gifts as well as the chance for people to send us pieces which need an expert touch to revive them to their best.
Do you have any hunting trips booked for 2023 that you can tell us about?
I certainly do – I’m lucky enough to be heading to Idaho in October to hunt elk, something I’ve been keen to do for many years, so I’m thoroughly excited about that. In the meantime, I’m impatiently awaiting the roe deer season here in the UK (the countdown is on to the 1st of April!) and am busy planning grouse shooting for later this year.
I’ve recently returned from a trip to Zimbabwe with Buzz Charlton which was utterly fantastic. Hunting trips like these always remind me how special Africa is, and how lucky we are to be able to go there with likeminded people to be part of the hunting and conservation work there.
Is there any other news from the Rigby world that you would like to share with us?
There is so much going on at the moment, it’s hard to know where to start – we’ve purchased a new building which we aim to move into in 2024. It’s two and half times the size of our current premises so that’s going to be transformative. It’s a part of an ambitious growth plan which includes training up more people to become gunmakers in the Rigby Academy, so I’m looking to having the space to invest in this initiative. The company is doing really well and I’m incredibly optimistic and enthusiastic about the future.
Certainly enjoyed seeing all of you at SCI in Nashville! And those display rifles you brought were stunning. Well done!