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From The Grassroots

How Madhya Pradesh is becoming the new powerhouse of shooting in India

The Madhya Pradesh Shooting Academy that is run by the Sports and Youth Welfare department of the state has produced an exceptionally talented pool of shooters who are creating huge ripples not only in India but also in the world.

How Madhya Pradesh is becoming the new powerhouse of shooting in India

Madhya Pradesh Shooting Academy (Source- Twitter/Suma Shirur)


Md Imtiaz

Published: 18 Nov 2021 5:23 AM GMT

Among the heaps of records 20-year-old Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar has created so far, he might have forgotten that he became the first individual athlete from Madhya Pradesh to participate at the Olympics when he set his foot at the Asaka Shooting Range in the Tokyo Games.

A state that had so far built its Olympics reputation through hockey stalwarts like Roop Singh, Shivendra Singh, and Armaan Qureshi, among others, witnessed a fresh face who not only had dared to explore beyond hockey but also excelled in his sport as one of the top-rank holders in the world.

Despite a disappointing outing at the showpiece event, Tomar's achievement has set benchmarks of rousing success. A gold medallist at ISSF World Cup, Junior World Cup, a world ranking of no.2, and a junior world record holder, Tomar has performed like a true shooting prodigy who also holds great promises for the future. As Tomar made his journey to the Tokyo Olympics, he also ensured a watershed moment for the Madhya Pradesh Shooting Academy, where he honed his discipline during the formative years.

The Madhya Pradesh Shooting Academy that is run by the Sports and Youth Welfare department of the state has seen a giant leap of progress in the last couple of years, producing an exceptionally talented pool of shooters who are creating huge ripples not only in India but also in the world. In fact, four shooters of Madhya Pradesh, for the first time in the history of Madhya Pradesh sports, were selected for a 32-member core group training separately for the Tokyo Olympics.

Indian rifle coach Suma Shirur with Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar (Source: The Indian Express)

The Madhya Pradesh Shooting Academy in Bhopal was founded in July 2007 to make shooting a mainstream sport in the state. Since its inception, the academy has been driven by the goal of finding talent from even the remotest corners of the state and imparting them free-of-cost training in pistol, shotgun, and rifle shooting under state-of-the-art training facilities. The academy roped in some of the best shooting coaches of India to ensure the holistic development of the shooters. The high performance director of the Indian rifle team, a 2004 Athens Olympic 10m air rifle shooter, and Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Suma Shirur took charge of rifle shooting. She was joined by the four-time Olympian shooter and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Mansher Singh as the Shotgun coach and Asiad and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jaspal Rana as the pistol coach.

Mansher Singh (Source: ESPN)

The students of the academy have won more than 60 medals in international tournaments and above 300 medals in national tournaments. Speaking to The Bridge in an exclusive conversation, shotgun coach Mansher Singh, who has been associated with the academy since its foundation, said, "Our emphasis was to go into the remotest corners of the state and find talent. We wanted to nurture them to compete at international stages by creating the right shooting infrastructure in Bhopal. We look for young talents between the age group of 14 and 18. They are then put through some physical aptitude tests, hand-eye coordination tests, through which we figure out if they would be in a better position to excel in shooting."

After joining the academy as a coach, Singh brought in a module where the shooting was brought to small villages and districts where a student would be taught free of cost. The academy provides all the modern-day amenities and equipment sponsored by the government. It also takes care of their lodging, education, nutrition, physiotherapy, and phycological training.

Most of the shooters in the academy come from humble backgrounds and have set an example by carving a niche for themselves at the national level. Sunidhi Chauhan (3P Rifle and mixed 3P event ), who won the bronze medal at 2021 ISSF World Cup in Delhi in the mixed event with Aishwary, is a daughter of a factory worker in the Govindpura industrial area.

Shooter Chinki Yadav (Source:

Shooter Chinki Yadav became Madhya Pradesh's first athlete to secure a World No. 1 rank in any sport. With two back-to-back gold medals at the ISSF Shooting world championship in Delhi this year, she became the world's top-ranked pistol shooter in the women's 25m category, with 1,110 rating points. Chinki's father, Mehtab Yadav, is an electrician at the academy. Chinki had joined the shooting academy in 2012.

Seven years ago, Manisha Keer used to help her father catch fish, which they sold together in Bhopal markets. Now, she is shooting for glory. Two years ago Manisha had even equalled the junior world record at ISSF World Championships at Changwon, Korea, and bagged silver for the country. Manisha was spotted by the academy in 2014. She was a natural with the gun and made her presence felt at the state and national level. Farmer's son Aishwary had bagged India's Olympic quota in shooting with a bronze medal in men's 50m rifle 3 positions at the 14th Asian Championship in 2019.

These success stories have brought incredible popularity to the academy, which trains 100 students every year. "We have received a fantastic response from parents in the last few years who are keen to train their kids in shooting. We had a talent search last month, where we had over 700 contestants who tried to get admission to the program but unfortunately, we had a limited number of seats. Since the Olympics, we have received over 5,000 calls from parents who have enquired about our admission criteria," adds Singh.

A brainchild of the present Sports Minister of the state Yashodhara Raje Scindia, the state machinery has bridged the gap of shooting from being a sport for the elites to moulding a young arsenal of shooters breaking the barriers of poverty, struggles, and limited resources. Scindia's efforts to create a sport ecosystem in the state, from hockey to water sports and now shooting, have paved the way for major sporting success in the last decade.

Suma Shirur, who has been a part of the academy since 2018, shares her own experience of reinvigorating the rifle discipline after she took up the charge. "The academy has put up years of effort to raise its standards to where it is today. It is the hard work of many people which is reflected in the results of these shooters. We have all started achieving what we had envisioned. I joined the academy in 2018, and then the results started to come in as you can see with Aishwary breaking so many records. I take pride in being a part of this amazing journey at the academy," adds Shirur.

The Madhya Pradesh Shooting Academy will soon be able to host world cup events. Space for a new final range has been earmarked on the campus of MP Shooting Academy, which is set to host the National Shooting Championship from November 25.

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