At the age of 65, Chandro Tomar accompanied a female family to a local shooting club. When she took aim and consistently shot a perfect ten, the surrounding people were amazed.
“I got my granddaughter admitted here, but she said she was afraid of coming alone so I started accompanying her. Then one day I picked up a gun and fired a shot, and it was quite good. So the coach said I should start practising and that I had the potential to be good” (1).
She spent her days tending cattle, keeping house and attending to her family, and her nights honing her keen eye.
After only two years of practice, Chandro competed against the Deputy Inspector General of Delhi Police. She won the contest and the Deputy then refused to be photographed with Tomar, and reportedly commented: “What photograph, I have been humiliated by a woman (1)”
After overcoming so much ridicule, this hardly effects Chandro:
“We wanted to do something useful with our lives and show everyone what we were capable of – that we could excel despite our age. I was simply hooked to the sport. We were so focused that we defied all odds, beat the disadvantage of age and took part in competitions across the country” (1).
Now, 84 years old, Chandro has won many awards, between 100-150 in fact. At the beginning, family members and the community mocked her. She is from India, where female shooters, especially those advanced in age, aren’t common. Her village, Johri village in Uttar Pradesh, is a northern province infamous for honour killings and female foeticide. However, she says with a grin, that as she kept raking in the medals, their distain has grown into respect. She has won 25 national championships and also the hearts of judges in India’s Got Talent.
She now teaches her craft to other local girls. She went door to door to recruit and feels it is essential to their self confidence and possibly for future defense.
Her message for young women?
“I say to them: work hard and keep your chin up and you will go places.”
- Haleem, Suhail (11 July 2011). “India’s sharp-shooter granny fighting male domination”. BBC News.