By Brittany Nelson, USAS Public Relations & Communications Manager
COLO SPRGS, CO (Oct. 13, 2023) – It all started with a Fort Wayne, Indiana, high school rifle team needing a place to practice in 2013. Ten years later Diane and Gregg Rice, with the help of their community, created a state-of-the-art indoor shooting facility and a nonprofit USA Shooting Certified Training Center, The X Count.
Gregg and Diane Rice fell into the shooting community like many adults do, through their children. Their sons, Cody and Jared, became interested in the sport while in grade school. Gregg began coaching them, but they needed a facility to train in. Helping the local high school team turned into a desire to educate the community about the exciting sport.
“We started off practicing in a barn,” said Diane. “A retired military couple lent us the space for us to use.”
A helpful community of folks passionate about youth shooting sports really helped the Rices hit the ground running. Larry and Brenda Potterfield, with the Potterfield group, have been assisting The X Count since the beginning.
“The Potterfields really believed in us,” said Diane. “We couldn’t have had the dreams we did without them. The MidWayUSA Foundation and The Friends of the NRA Foundation have also big a huge help”
The X Count started an endowment with The MidWayUSA Foundation where their contributions are matched by the organization.
After using the barn and bouncing around facilities, the Rice’s acquired their current building in November of 2015, the night before Thanksgiving. The holiday weekend didn’t stop the Rice’s and the community from getting to work on the building that had not been occupied for years.
“We spent all of Wednesday night cleaning” said Daniel Shanbrook, an X Count coach. “We power washed the place top to bottom and by Friday morning the team was starting to move equipment in. We had our first air rifle practice that next Tuesday, just six days after we got the keys to the building.”
The X Count range was coming to life as they began to use the new building. The club started with paper targets until they installed permanent walls and electronic targets in 2017.
The X Count became a USA Shooting Certified Training Center (CTC) in 2018. A CTC is a facility that has passed through a series of rigorous certifications, proving an exceptional commitment to Olympic/Paralympic style shooting with excellent training facilities and coaches. There are several CTCs throughout the country.
Today, the range has 20 lanes that can do either 10m Air Rifle/Pistol or 50 ft Smallbore. The facility has hosted the Collegiate Club National Championships and multiple official NCAA rifle matches. In 2024 the club will host their first NCAA Patriot Rifle Conference Championship.
“We host national events, paralympic events, camps and clinics, and the Padini Grand Prix,” said Diane Rice. “We bring in talent from all over the world.”
The X Count doesn’t just host shooting events, they also teach ranger officer courses, NRA Coaching Courses, and merit badge days for American Heritage Girls and programs with local Boy Scout groups. Their list of actives seems to be growing each year and they have no plans of slowing down.
“We are actually working on getting a new building,” said Diane. “We will have more lanes, the ability to shoot 50m Smallbore, accommodate all pistol events, and provide hunter’s education and gun safety courses.”
The Rices could not make The X Count possible without the help of their staff and countless volunteers. The team is led by Gregg, head coach, with the help of Assistant Coaches Daniel Shanebrook and Molly Fink.
“I started shooting with Diane and Gregg’s son Jared when they first formed the team,” said Shanbrook. “I have been coaching with The X Count for three seasons now. I really enjoy teaching the kids and seeing their talent develop over the years. Helping them set goals, watching them work hard towards them and ultimately achieve what they wanted to accomplish is the best feeling in the world.”
Alivia Perkins, one of the X Count athletes, was named to the 2023 USA Shooting Junior World Championship team. Perkins competed with Team USA in Changwon, Korea, at the 2023 International Shooting Sports Federation Junior World Championship this past July. She competed in the Junior Women’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions event and earned bronze in the team event.
Diane credits God for the success of The X Count and how much the non-profit has grown since 2013.
“God has been my favorite part of this journey,” said Diane. “There were times I didn’t think we were going to be able to do things but then through some divine intervention we kept making it and getting there. There are too many instances where that happened for it to not be God.”
The Rice’s are looking forward to expanding the future of The X Count. In early 2024 they will be hosting the Junior Air Rifle and Pistol Nationals and running the match in conjunction with The Civilian Marksmanship Program North at Camp Perry next January.
To learn more about The X Count, visit their Facebook page here.
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