Close to my Herts: Bob Jackson

President of the Welwyn Phoenix Rifle Club, Bob Jackson, tells Louise McEvoy about his love of shooting, scuba diving and the North Hertfordshire countryside

President of the Welwyn Phoenix Rifle Club, Bob Jackson, tells Louise McEvoy about his love of shooting, scuba diving and the North Hertfordshire countryside


When was Welwyn Phoenix Rifle Club established?

We have been shooting as a club since 1982 and it is currently one of the most active of the Hertfordshire Rifle Association clubs.

How many members are there and what does the club offer?

We have about 20 members, who have represented at national and county level and whose abilities range from expert to novice. We have a full club programme running from March through October, which is primarily designed to meet the needs and aspirations of club members. Our main aim is to provide a relaxed, sociable and competitive atmosphere. Coaching from beginner and upwards is always available and actively encouraged for the improving shooter. We regularly enter teams in county and national competitions, where we have posted some notable successes in the past.

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How long have you been the club's president?

I was one of the club’s officials at its formation, being honorary secretary until 1996, when I assumed the role of president and chairman. As a relatively small club, officialdom is very hands-on and, when not shooting, I now spend much time these days in a coaching and organisational role, ostensibly made easier through the benefits of retirement.

How can potential members find out more?

Our website at has detailed information and also provides contact details for guests and an annual programme of club meetings between March and October. For those without access to the internet, call me on 01889 508090 or honorary secretary Paul Sinclair on 01462 895146.

When did you first become interested in shooting?

I first took up shooting at school when free ammunition and rifles were readily available to cadet forces from the Ministry of Defence. First shooting competitively in 1961, I represented my school at the summer Imperial Meeting at Bisley at the tender age of 14. So was born a lifelong passion for a sport that has provided continuous friendship and enjoyment and one or two successes.

In terms of coaching, very often the doubting visitor, who feels he or she can hardly see the target at 600 yards, will be regularly hitting the mark by the end of the day. There is nothing more rewarding than for a coach to see the smiles get wider and wider.

In terms of shooting, what has been your biggest achievement so far?

A scattering of county team appearances for both Yorkshire and Hertfordshire over the years were eclipsed rather late in life when I managed to defeat 1195 other competitors in one of the main events in the 2009 Bisley Imperial Meeting, just missing out in the tie shoot to finish second. Who says experience can’t overcome ability?

What other interests do you have?

My other regular passions are playing golf and, where holidays and time permit, scuba diving. I am quite happy to admit that I’ve never been as busy since retiring six years ago, and five grandchildren make sure I will never grow old!

Describe yourself in five words.

Gregarious, single-minded, dedicated, purposeful, enthusiastic.

Where is your favourite place in Hertfordshire?

The Lower Luton Road between Whitwell and Breachwood Green. I loved living in Breachwood Green and it was always a joy to drive that stretch of road to and from work.

What do you consider is Hertfordshire's greatest asset?

The unspoilt, rural, rolling countryside and villages of North Herts. It is so accessible, yet so quiet. It’s a hidden gem probably only enjoyed by a small number of people.

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