A note of warning to all you bloggers and bloggerettes: What follows is a subject of such luminous, transcendent importance that you are going to see it in different form in the pages of Field & Stream at some future date. If this annoys you, complain to someone who cares. I don’t.

The most illuminating single comment at the 2006 SHOT Show (aside from “Wow, have you seen the booth babe two aisles up?”) was made by my friend and colleague Dick Metcalf, a man who operates at the very highest intellectual level. (He has a PhD from Yale, and taught at Cornell, for God’s sake. How he tolerates the gun biz is beyond me.) We were sitting next to each other at a press conference at the Leica booth, viewing the latest in multi-thousand-dollar teutonic optical marvels when he said:

“We’ve gotten to the point where you can buy an over-the-counter gun that’s beyond the ability of even a good shot to get everything out of it.”

Or words to that effect. And he’s right. There were probably a dozen exhibitors in that hall who make rifles that will shoot down to around a half an inch or better, starting with the lowest-priced (Savage) and progressing up to Nesika, Ed Brown Precision, Les Baer, New Ultra Light Arms, Weatherby, and on, and on.

Benchrest competitors, who can put five bullets through one hole as a matter of course, will tell you that no one has an edge in equipment in any given match—the winner is determined by skill. Who reads the wind the best? Whose nerves are strongest? Who can crank five shots downrange before conditions change even slightly?

It will be very interesting to see if we develop a new breed of shooters to go with the new rifles. From what I’ve witnessed, we have a way to go in that department, but as Orphan Annie says, “There’s always tomowwow.”