Uttar Pradesh, a state in northern India, is particularly infamous for female foeticide – not the best place for girls to grow up or even to try and take over the male dominated sport of shooting, you would think. But thanks to Parkaso Tomar, a lady in her mid 70s, exactly this has happened:
When she was way past her 60th birthday she accompanied her granddaughter to the local shooting range, who was scared to go to training on her own. After just watching for a couple of times one day Tomar picked up a gun and tried a few shots herself. She showed great talent, and the coach motivated her to join the training lessons.
Tomar from then on came to the range late in the evening, after her work was done, and practised. The shooting soon became a passion, and even while working on the fields she would find opportunities to practise – like aiming for a jug of water.
Coming to the shooting range, a distinct male territory, in a state where women barely have a voice exposed Tomar to great ridicule. People made fun of her, said she was trying to become an outlaw. But she never lost her goal out of sight:
Soon she entered competitions and scared some of the regulars away, who were afraid to be humiliated at the hands of an old woman. Now, at the age of 75, Tomar still shoots with a steady hand and her home is richly adorned with medals and trophies she won at competitions across the country.
Her first victory was defeating an officer of the rank of Deputy Inspector General of police in Delhi only two years after she took up the sport. He had been training for most of his life. Her greatest success, however, is inspiring the young: Thanks to her, many young girls in the village took up the sport and changed their lives completely. Some of them are very successful in international shooting competitions, others have joined the army. Being exposed to life outside their village has changed their worldviews and allowed them much more freedom in their decisions than previous generations have experienced.