All the conversations I have ever had with different people about the royal family of Bikaner have always simmered down to the legend of Maharaja Karni Singh in the shooting range and then conversation abruptly ends at this point, almost every time. It seems as if people tend to forget that the Maharaja’s legacy doesn’t end there. His daughter, Rajyashree Kumari, was an equally potent shooter and is one of the youngest recipients of the Arjuna Award at just 16 years of age.
Belonging to a royal family which took a lot of pride in their heritage, their hunting-and-shooting abilities; taking up shooting was quite a natural progression for Rajyashree Kumari. She took up shooting at the mere age of six and her extraordinary talent meant that it didn’t take her much long to carve a niche for herself in the sport.
Just like her father and coach, Maharaja Karni Singh, Rajyashree showed immense promise right from her childhood and emerged as the ace markswoman for the country. Such was her prowess with a gun in her hand that even years after her retirement, she still stands as one of the best shooters produced by India.
During the initial phase of her career, Rajyashree was associated with the Bikaner Thunderbolts Club. It was her extraordinary performance with the Thunderbolts which earned her a place in the Indian Shooting Team. She had as many as fifteen National titles in her kitty by the time she turned fifteen years old.
Two years later, at seventeen years of age, Rajyashree shot a brilliant 92 out of 100 in the National Trap Shooting Championship. Believe it or not, this record set in the year 1970 is still unbeaten. Five years later in the National Championship at Chandigarh, Rajyashree went on to win the silver in Trap shooting, beating every male competitor except one. The man who defeated her to win the gold was no one else but her father, Maharaja Karni Singh.
Rajyashree Kumari’s achievements inside the shooting range are unparalleled. And with the amount of laurels she has bought to the country, it’s a pity that she is almost always remembered as the daughter of Maharaja Karni Singh and not as the shooter who achieved the Arjuna Award at just 16!