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India’s famous rifle-wielding granny Chandro Tomar no more4 min read

May 2, 2021 3 min read


India’s famous rifle-wielding granny Chandro Tomar no more4 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Friday was an unfortunate for the shooting community as India mourned the loss of a very special veteran – Chandro Tomar. The 89-year-old sharpshooter was in the hospital after contracting Covid-19.

Chandro Tomar

Who is a sharpshooter?
A sharpshooter is someone who is an expert at firing firearms or other projectile weapons accurately. Military units composed of sharpshooters were important in war and combat.

Tomas, who is nicknamed ‘Shooter Dadi’, hailed from a village called Johri in the state of Uttar Pradesh. So what makes this octogenarian so special? Well, she decided that age was no barrier to learning. In 1999, when she was in her 60s, Tomar learnt to shoot and ‘shot’ to national fame!

Taking her shot

Tomar didn’t go to school, and was married off at the age of 15, which was common at the time, and even more so in small towns and villages. She went onto to having five children and twelve grandchildren, and it an incident involving one of her grandchildren that sparked the shooter-bug in her. Her granddaughter Shefali wanted to learn how to shoot at the Johri Rifle Club, but was hesitant to go by herself to an all-boys club. So, she asked her grandmother to go along with her.

Shooter sisters Prakashi and Chandro

Tomar held her first pistol there and started to shoot – she hit a bulls-eye with her first shot! The coach at the club, Farooq Pathan, watched Tomar shooting, and was impressed by her skills, so he encouraged her to join the club and get formally trained.

Unfortunately, not everyone was in favour of her new-found passion. She was mocked and put down when she first started to enter tournaments. Her husband too opposed her decision, but she did not give up.

Soon, her daughter and granddaughter also joined, and she also encouraged other families to send their daughters to join the sport.

From 1999, Tomar took part in and won over 25 state and national championships across India. She won the gold medal at the Veteran Shooting Championship held in Chennai.

Apart from her sporting medals, Tomar was given social honours. She was awarded the Nari Shakti Puraskar by former President Pranab Mukherji. This award is given by the government to women or organisations that are working towards women’s empowerment.

Chandro at a shooting tournament

In 2021, she told The New York Times that her strength and agility is from “all the household chores I used to do from a young age, like grinding the wheat by hand, milking the cows, cutting the grass. It’s important to stay active. Your body might grow old, but keep your mind sharp.”

Family of shooters

Her niece Seema Tomar is also a sharpshooter, and was the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Rifle and Pistol World Cup in 2010. Shefali, her granddaughter, took part in international tournaments in Germany and Hungary. Her sister too, Prakashi Tomar, fondly known as ‘Revolver Dadi’, is an international shooter.

Owliver’s Obscure Observations: Saand ki Aankh (translating to bulls-eye) is a 2019 film based on the lives of sharpshooters Chandro and Prakashi Tomar.

Sources: Indian Express, Wikipedia, Hindustan Times

Images: Times of India, Economic Times, Twitter