by John Dunn
The shooting sports have always been part of Annie Tobler’s life. As the first born child of parents Robert and Kathy, she has been going to gun shows and competitive shoots all her life. While that makes her upbringing a little different to most of her peers, you’d never guess by talking to her.
Ask her what she likes best about the shooting sports and she’ll tell you it’s her family and the friendships she has made. Annie also likes beating her younger sister, Grace, and while that could be nothing more than sibling rivalry at work, it’s also a manifestation of the competitive streak she has displayed from the day she first began to shoot.
Annie began competing in 2011 and, to date, has won more than 90 medals in State, ACT and National events. Her favourite events are Rimfire Metallic Silhouette, Cowboy Lever Action Silhouette and Bench Rest. She also likes shooting black powder small bore and, when she has some time to spare, considers herself “a bit of a movie buff”.
Annie credits her parents with having coached her so far, and also speaks highly of Dann Suthern for all the advice he has given along the way. She realises that if she wants to improve her scores in future she’ll probably need a coach, especially as she would love to travel overseas to compete.
She also wants to improve her standing at national level and become “heaps better” at Bench Rest - a discipline she would like to concentrate on. Given her grandfather, Denis, and father were both successful Bench Rest shooters that’s not surprising, but there’s also a practical reason for her wanting to go down that path.
In 2014, Annie became ill and was subsequently diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a debilitating condition that gives her severe headaches and affects her muscles and joints to the point she has had to spend time in a wheelchair.
At times she struggles to stand and shoot because of the pain, and that has led to a growing interest in Bench Rest where she can sit down to compete and still pursue her passion. Not surprisingly, she has the full support and help of her parents and extended family.
Outside of shooting, Annie has received a monthly Sports Person Award from the Berrima District Sports Award Committee, and while she hasn’t cracked the Sports Person of the Year award just yet, she’s proud of her nomination and being able to represent the shooting sports. In 2014 she was honoured in her school magazine with a full page story on her shooting achievements.
At the ripe old age of 16, Annie is currently learning to drive and planning her future after school. She is also undertaking a Business Studies course to improve her employment chances when the time comes.
And as one of her many honorary “uncles”, I regard Annie to be one of the best-grounded young ladies I’ve ever had the privilege to know. Much of that is down to her parents, but her personal courage and determination in dealing with her health issues is something that has to be seen to be fully appreciated. I’ll be very surprised if she doesn’t succeed in whatever path she chooses in life.