COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (October 2, 2018)

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Marksmanship UnitThe USA Shooting community is once again mourning the death of one of its greatest competitors and ambassadors with the passing of rifle standout Ernest J. Vande Zande. Vande Zande passed away Saturday at the age of 70 at his home after a protracted battle with pancreatic cancer. 

Vande Zande was born April 23, 1948 in McCook, Nebraska. He was preceded in death by his good friend Lones Wigger, a Hall-of-Fame rifle shooter in his own right, who passed away from the same cancer in December 2017. He was also preceded in death by his mother Lenore Vande Zande, grandmother Luella Wyatt, and aunt Ada Wyatt. 

Along with a brilliant shooting career, Vande Zande was known for the care and compassion he extended for those closest to him and especially the shooting community he loved.   

In 1999, he established an endowment fund carrying his mother’s name (Wyatt Vande Zande Foundation), to provide funding to organizations with educational programs for battered women.  

He attended Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky and competed in the sport of rifle where he earned four year All American honors, and four National Championships. He graduated in 1971 with a degree in Business Administration. He was inducted into the Murray State University Sports Hall of Fame in 1988. To his death, he continued to help and support the Racer rifle team behind his signature line of “It’s great at State,” and he left an indelible mark that will stand the test of time.   

“I don’t know how many people asked me who is that guy always saying ‘It’s great at State!,” said Alan Lollar, current head coach for the Murray State Rifle Team. “Ernie was more than an alumnus and there is

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