As summertime in London approaches, we catch up with Rigby gunmaker Loick Desmanet to learn more about his background and what he’s working on in the workshop at the moment. Loick hails from Belgium, is a graduate of the prestigious Liège School of Gunmaking and joined Rigby in January 2020.
How did you end up pursuing a path in gunmaking? Have guns and shooting always been a part of your life?
My father was a passionate hunter, so guns have always been a part of my life ever since I was a little boy. I used to watch him taking care of his rifles and shotguns and enjoyed seeing him take them apart to clean them, learning more about how they worked. When I heard about the Liège School of Gunmaking, I decided I wanted to expand my education in both gunmaking and stocking, so it was clear that my future lay there.
What is your most memorable hunting or shooting experience to date?
Despite my father’s passion for hunting, I’ve never actually been on a hunting trip myself. I would love to try hunting and am planning how I can ensure it becomes a part of my life in the future. I have my Belgian hunting licence and my colleagues here have enjoyed giving me tips about hunting in the UK. I used to enjoy clay shooting near my home in Belgium and again, I would like to get back into the habit of dusting clays.
What do you like most about working at Rigby?
The variety is just fantastic. I really love the fact that we can do a bit of everything in the workshop, and we are not restricted to just one task or area. I might sometimes be focused on lock-work, another day on trigger work or perhaps oil finishing a London Best. We also strip clean and carry out repairs on customers’ guns, so I can keep all my different skills honed and together. The clear focus on quality, craftsmanship and preserving the age-old skills of gunmaking means we all feel very valued at Rigby.
What does a normal day look like at Pensbury Place?
Well, there’s not really any such things as a normal day, as it really is quite varied. I’d say what permeates through everything we do is simply keeping focused on our work, doing our very best and learning every single day. We have such a great team here and it’s a pleasure seeing how everyone else approaches their work and what they are trying to improve on.
What are you working on at the moment? Are there any exciting new guns in the pipeline?
I’ve just finished working on a pair of locks for a .470 double rifle, which I was very pleased with. Now, I have the Swiss Edition bolt action rifles sitting on my bench to work on, and it’s nice to have a new challenge to focus on. As I said, one of the best things about Rigby is the variety. Sadly, I cannot divulge any information about new guns, but I can say we’re always thinking ahead and planning the future – life here never stands still.
What would you like to see Rigby adding to their collection in the future?
I think the Rigby collection is pretty big and close to complete, but it would be fun to make some over-and-under shotguns one day. I don’t believe Rigby has ever made any and it would be interesting to see what the result looked like. I’m still enjoying getting under the skin of the company and learning more about the Rigby heritage and history, so perhaps ask me that question again in 10 years’ time!
Describe what a perfect day outside the workshop looks like?
It’s amazing to have a city like London to explore when we’re not working. There is so much history, many different cultures and plenty to see and do. A perfect day for me, when I’m not working of course, is reading a book under the sun in a park with a good cigar on the go. Of course, sometimes the British weather doesn’t oblige with the sunshine, but I always keep my fingers crossed. Summertime in England is very beautiful, and London becomes like a different city… If (or perhaps when) it does rain and we are forced inside, I use my spare time to expand my knowledge of cigars and whisky. I also enjoy sharing time with my friends, visiting museums, or having a drink and a nice dinner together.