An­thony Al­bor­ough-tregear

West­ley Richards’ managing di­rec­tor dis­cusses dan­ger­ous game, deer man­age­ment and his dis­taste for elitism.

Shooting Gazette - - In The Hot Seat - In­ter­view: robert Cuth­bert pho­tog­ra­phy: west­ley richards

What was your sea­son like last year?

most of my sport is in­ter­na­tional big game hunt­ing as op­posed to game shoot­ing in the UK. I am lucky enough to go on at least one or two sa­faris a year. In re­cent years I have hunted in tan­za­nia, South Africa, Alaska, texas and Aus­tria. I’ve hunted a lot of dif­fer­ent species and feel that each one brings its own chal­lenges. I do a small amount of bird shoot­ing here with friends, which in­cludes wild­fowl­ing and driven par­tridge/pheas­ant. Over the years I’ve shot just about every quarry species in this coun­try and have then pro­gressed else­where in the world.

What is your favourite story with dan­ger­ous game?

Dur­ing a rel­a­tively re­cent sa­fari to tan­za­nia the client fell ill on the very first day of the sa­fari and so of­fered that I take his brand new West­ley richards .577 dou­ble ri­fle out with me. typ­i­cally we en­coun­tered two good bulls in the thick tall ele­phant grass com­mon to this area. With some very care­ful stalk­ing the pro­fes­sional hunter and I were able to ap­proach to within 13 paces and shoot a nice buf­falo. I then thought to my­self this client had spent all that money on a brand new ri­fle and I was the first per­son to get an an­i­mal down with it! In fair­ness he could not have been hap­pier and was pleased that the man re­spon­si­ble for get­ting his ri­fle built was the one re­spon­si­ble for the first suc­cess­ful hunt with it.

Who got you into the shoot­ing world?

I’ve been do­ing it since I was 11 but got into it seriously when I was about 15. Years ago, a friend of mine gave me some large cal­i­bre rounds, .450 Nitro ex­press etc., and this re­ally sparked my in­ter­est in big game ri­fles and hunt­ing. A few years later I bumped into the late Si­mon Clode, the then owner of West­ley richards, at an arms show in Lon­don. He of­fered me a job, but I’d just ac­cepted a place at university. After university I went back to him and he gave me a role. I’ve now been do­ing this for 20-odd years. I ini­tially did four-and-a-half years here at West­ley richards, then seven years at e.j. Churchill be­fore re­turn­ing to West­ley richards where I’ve been ever since.

Some­times the pas­sion burns brighter if it is some­thing you’ve found your­self?

that’s true. I think so many peo­ple force their chil­dren into do­ing things, es­pe­cially in this day and age. they start them very young and then by the time they’re 20 they are bored with it. If you come into it your­self you nor­mally have a pas­sion for it.

I re­ally en­joy the big cal­i­bre ri­fles and the man­u­fac­ture of them. my speciality is the build­ing of these, putting some truly unique projects to­gether. I am also very keen to change how the in­dus­try will be per­ceived go­ing for­ward and I’m work­ing on some projects now that are look­ing to the fu­ture both here in the UK and in­ter­na­tion­ally. You need to en­gage with a younger gen­er­a­tion of clients so that com­pa­nies like West­ley richards can con­tinue to build best guns and ri­fles for another 200 years. It’s not just about the guns, though - you need to show what sport is out there and how lucky we are to be able to par­take in it.

What was your first shoot­ing trip?

When I was a kid I re­mem­ber bunk­ing off school to go and shoot on my friends’ farms. We often de­coyed pi­geons, shot rab­bits and, if we were lucky, shot the oc­ca­sional game. Since those early days I have done all sorts of shoot­ing and con­sider my­self non-elit­ist, rather a have-a-go-guy. I am ac­tu­ally into all as­pects of the sport. even though I am now managing di­rec­tor of West­ley richards, my best bud­dies are the peo­ple I started out with and I still have as much fun lamp­ing with them as I do chas­ing dan­ger­ous game in­ter­na­tion­ally.

roe stalk­ing is your favourite sport­ing pur­suit at home?

Yes, I love roe stalk­ing be­cause it is a sin­gu­lar pur­suit, often for a spe­cific an­i­mal. I think it is the most spec­tac­u­lar tro­phy in bri­tain and we are priv­i­leged to have such an iconic deer species on these shores. the man­age­ment of deer is more im­por­tant to me than the ac­tual killing. the ground I have now has some fan­tas­tic qual­ity but I have been care­ful to re­move older bucks, poor qual­ity and young heads this year. I man­age does in a sim­i­lar way, tak­ing care not to re­move key ge­netic stock that has bred with the bet­ter bucks. I have left a lot of great heads this year and hope to see the ben­e­fit of this in the fu­ture. Years ago I would have been far less se­lec­tive and was solely fo­cused on hunt­ing. How­ever, as I got older and more ex­pe­ri­enced I be­come more in­ter­ested in the man­age­ment of things and how you can im­prove a place.

“It’s not just about guns - you need to show what sport is out there and how lucky we are to be able to par­take in it.”

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