1. GREATEST SINGLE ADVANCE IN RIFLE TECHNOLOGY IN THE PAST CENTURY: The synthetic stock. At last, a truly stable platform for a barreled action.

2. THE SINGLE EVENT MOST LIKELY TO DETERMINE IF WE HAVE GUNS AT THE END OF THIS CENTURY: The Supreme Court deciding this June whether the right to keep and bear arms applies to militias or to individuals.

3. THE BEST U.S. MILITARY RIFLE: The M-1 Garand. George Patton called it “…the greatest battle implement ever devised,” and it was our main infantry weapon in the last war we won. The M-16 has had a much longer active life, but the present version bears only a passing resemblance to the original, whereas the M-1 did its entire tour of duty nearly unchanged.

4. MOST WONDERFUL GUN IRONY: Audie L. Murphy, the most decorated U.S. serviceman of World War II, was required to take instruction in firearms handling before he was allowed to act in his first motion picture.

5. MOST DEPRESSING TREND IN HUNTING: The breakneck transition from acquiring skill to mastering technology.

6. BEST EXAMPLE OF WHY GUN CONTROL APPLIES ONLY TO LITTLE PEOPLE: In June 1988, in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., long-time Washington Post columnist and rabid anti-gunner Carl Rowan shot a youthful intruder in his back yard, wounding him slightly in the wrist. The .22 handgun Rowan used was unregistered. Rowan’s trial resulted in a hung jury and he was never re-tried.

  1. MOST LOATHSOME TREND AMONG WEALTHY BIG-GAME HUNTERS: Having a third-rate artist do a portrait of them with their favorite dead animal, usually killed with the help of a large supporting cast.

8. LEAST CONVINCING POLITICAL MASQUERADE IN A YEAR NOTED FOR SHUCK AND JIVE Mitt Romney, who has spent his entire political career supporting gun control, joined the NRA in August, 2006. Romney, who described himself as a lifelong hunter, admitted to going on two hunts when pressed for details.