West Virginia's Tal Engler talks to members of the WVU rifle coaching staff during a meet on Oct. 10, 2021.

West Virginia's Tal Engler talks to members of the WVU rifle coaching staff during a meet on Oct. 10, 2021. 

The West Virginia rifle team is off to a perfect start this season at 4-0 and ranked No. 2 in the nation. 

The team has had contributions from multiple Mountaineers, but very few have been better than sophomore Tal Engler. 

Engler is from Tzur Yigal, Israel, and prior to playing for the Mountaineers, Engler represented Israel at multiple international shooting competitions. Engler was the 2018 National Team Shooter of the Year and holds the Israeli national record in air rifle and smallbore.

In her freshman season, Engler was named to the CRCA All-America Smallbore Second Team, CRCA All-America Aggregate Honorable Mention Team and came in fourth at the GARC Championships — second in the smallbore.

But this season, Engler has been even better. In the four matches the Mountaineers have competed in this season, Engler has been unstoppable. Engler has been the highest scoring player in the air rifle portion three times, smallbore twice and has had the highest score twice.

"My focus this year is getting stronger,” Engler said. “My focus is on practicing, working out more and eating a lot more. I'm very aware of my body and mind and what it wants and I think it's a lot easier to perform when you are getting your body what it needs.”

She has averaged a score of 587.25 in smallbore and 596.75 in air rifle. Engler has an overall score of 1187.35, with season totals of 2349, 2387 and 4735, respectively. 

All of these statistics are the best of any Mountaineers this season.

Engler has utilized her experience prior to West Virginia to help prepare herself for competitions with the Mountaineers. 

"I'm still on the national team, which is great,” Engler said. “That means I can travel to a lot of international [competitions], such as the European championships and junior competitions. I think the best preparation it gives me is that when I come to the competitions here, I'm already so used to competing on a very high level of competition, and I don't get as nervous.”

“I still get very excited because I love shooting and I love representing my team,” Engler added. “Any time you do what you like, you obviously get excited, but I'm a lot more prepared. I get support from two different resources, the European Shooting Confederation and WVU."

The Mountaineers and Engler will play their next game on Nov. 6 against the TCU Horned Frogs at the X Count in Fort Wayne, Indiana, at 9 a.m.

Sports Writer

Jake Howard is a junior journalism major and sports communication minor at WVU, from Leesburg, Virginia. Jake is a lifelong sports fan, he covered sports on YouTube previously and now writes about sports for the DA.