This month we spoke to Gary Duffey, Rigby’s US representative, to find out more about his background, what a normal day at work holds for him and where his passion for guns came from. He also shares some of the exciting things in the pipeline for Rigby in the US and beyond over the next 12 months.
Tell us a little bit about where your passion for guns and gunmaking came from.
I was fortunate to grow up in a neighbourhood with a real old time gunshop and another gunsmithing shop down the street. I frequented both, but mostly the gunshop. I started doing the most menial tasks there at about 11 years old and saw all manner of great American vintage guns walk through the door routinely. My father passed away when I was just 13 years old, and the owner became something of a surrogate father and mentor to me. I have always been fascinated with guns, their use and all the literature related to them. What characters walked through that door!
How long have you worked for Rigby? What brought you to the company?
I am in my fourth year at John Rigby & Co. Marc Newton and I were friends from many years meeting at the US shows and I think we both came to the same conclusion at about the same time that he needed someone with my background on the team. I saw it as a brilliant opportunity to do something that I love in my remaining working years. The idea of retirement has never appealed to me, and I felt I could add value to Rigby’s efforts in the US and now Canada has been added to my responsibility too. Our focus is solely on taking care of our customers and dealers and making the very best guns we can make. I am very proud to play a small role in our success.
Do you enjoy hunting and if so, what is your most memorable hunt to date?
Yes, I very much enjoy it all, including whitetail and small game locally, dove and bird hunting too. It is hard to imagine a scenario in which I would tire of it! I think my bull elk in 2018 with a Rigby Highland Stalker in .30-06 in my second month in this role may be a highlight. I must say that my first experience with driven red grouse in Scotland in 2020 was very special and I cannot get back to it soon enough.
Do you have any hunting trips planned this year?
I will have a week planned in November hunting whitetail during the rut and that is always a great week that I look forward to for months before – I literally count down the days. I am also looking at a mule deer hunt in Sonora, Mexico and this is something that I really want to do. We will be on a trip to Namibia in August for a few days developing some marketing and special project content and am very excited about that.
What does a normal working day look like for you and what is your favourite part of your job?
I am an early riser, so this habit works well with the US/UK time difference. I am up early returning emails and making any calls to the factory that are needed. More of my time is spent generating quotations and following up. Rigby’s web presence generates several routine questions as well, which need answering. The best part without question is the customer contact. Helping others get what they want is very rewarding.
Do you have any shows and conventions lined up?
We will, of course, be attending Dallas Safari Club Convention in January, as well as Safari Club International in February 2023. We have a much-expanded presence at DSC and are looking forward to seeing both existing and new clients at both shows.
Are you working on anything exciting at the moment?
We have a very exciting project that Marc Newton, Rigby’s managing director, has asked me to lead. Rigby is very committed to conservation through the sponsorship of the Dagga Boy Award and now we have added to that with a fundraising effort in support of Robin and Pauline Hurt’s – Habitat for Rhino project. Robin began his career with a Rigby .350 and we are building a limited-edition number of 11 very special Rigby rifles in .350 Rigby, with a percentage of the receipts being donated to this effort. The 11 rifles are significant in that each rifle is dedicated to a specific rhino. This is a very exciting and rewarding project for us. Our customers and followers can also expect some exciting things at the US shows during the next 12 months!
What’s the one Rigby gun you’d like to add to your collection and why?
I would love to have a Rigby London Best pairing of a .275 and .416 at some point. The .275 has become a favourite calibre for whitetail and is just a fantastic and comfortable rifle to shoot. The .416 is perfect for the big game hunting I am yet to do – but will make sure it becomes a reality.