Story by Blake Sandlin, Contributing writer
Murray State’s rifle team has their sights set high this season with a talented roster, including four All-Americans. One of them, Barbara Schläpfer, comes from a very different background than that of her teammates.
Schläpfer, sophomore from Gais, Switzerland, lives in a small village of about 3,000 people. Her high school class was made up of around 20 students so attending school at Murray State has been a real eye-opener for her, Schläpfer said.
Schläpfer’s interest in rifle sparked as a result of her getting injured playing soccer. When she suffered her injury, she was restricted from playing soccer for a year. Her uncle, who was the rifle coach in town, offered her a chance to shoot rifle with his team for a year.
But what started as a hobby 10 years ago became Schläpfer’s main focus. She continued with the team, participating in many competitions along the way.
Schläpfer says that in Switzerland, rifle is a very traditional sport. The club she participated in is more than 250 years old.
Her journey towards shooting for Murray State at the collegiate level began when she attended a practice camp in Italy and met Petra Zublasing, a former West Virginia shooter.
Schläpfer’s team competed against Zublasing who took interest in Schlapfer. Zublasing asked her if she had ever considered shooting in the United States. Schläpfer told her she was interested, and Zublasing gave her contact information to Murray State’s Head Coach Alan Lollar.
The recruiting process between Lollar and Schläpfer was much different than that of many college athletes.
“First we just emailed each other, and I kept him updated on every competition that I shot in,” Schläpfer said. “It wouldn’t have been beneficial for me to have come there or for him to come over to watch me because it was too expensive. We just had a lot of contact through email and Skype.”
The offer to come shoot for Murray State at the Division I level caused Schläpfer to hesitate, but she said at the end of the day, the decision to leave home was without regrets.
“The possibility to get an education and shoot at the same time was too interesting an offer to turn down,” Schläpfer said.
Schläpfer said that one of the biggest things she’s noticed since being in Murray is the way that people think. Since her town is so small, she was accustomed to walking everywhere she went. But at Murray, she’s noticed a big difference in students’ reliance on their cars.
“I walk everywhere back home. But here, you take the car to drive from the range to Winslow,” Schläpfer says.
The All-American seems to be adjusting nicely to her teammates, who she said she has gotten close with over the past year and a half.
“I think we are pretty close. We do a lot of things together. During the week, we will go to dinner together and on the weekends we sometimes go to the lake,” Schläpfer said.
With the upcoming season fast approaching, Schläpfer said she isn’t feeling the pressure that might come with being ranked so high in the pre-season.
“I don’t feel pressure because if I see my teammates practicing, I can see that we are able to be second in the nation or maybe even lead the nation,” Schläpfer said. “So it’s not like we have to do something that we don’t do every day. The scores that we need to be second or first in the nation, we have every day. So pressure, isn’t the right word — it’s more excitement.”