I've said this for several years and I believe it now more than ever. We live in the golden age of rifle shooting. Never before in our history has the American gunner been better equipped. When I began hunting in the 1960s, scoped rifles were the minority (at least locally). My first rifle was a Marlin 336 in .35 Remington. If one showed up in a deer camp in the late '60s, you might see a variety of lever rifles in .30-30 or .35 Rem, and a smattering of bolt guns in .30-06 and .270. Ammo was likewise limited. Winchester, Federal ad Remington made soft-point hunting ammo. If you were a handloader, good luck finding bullets. Oh, Siera and Hornady and Nosler made them, but you had to order them unless you were lucky enough to have a good handloading shop nearby.
Scopes were atrocious, fragile, and expensive. The less said abut them, the better. Oh, there were a few premium scopes out there, but the best were made by Weaver or Leupold, and were generally fixed 4X scopes.
In 1979, if my memory serves, Winchester came out with something called the Silver-Tip, a premium hunting bullet to compete with the Nosler Partition. The Partition was a very good hunting bullet, but suffered from a reputation for poor accuracy, although most off-the-shelf rifles of the day were only capable of 3-inch groups at 100 yards. If you wanted a super-accurate rifle, you went to a competent gunsmith to build the rifle. The mythical 1-inch group was the holy grail. It was often talked about, but rarely seen. I had one rifle, a Remington in 7mm-08 that turned in bug-hole groups with standard Core-Lokt ammo.
In 1984 (again, if memory serves) Nosler came out with the Ballistic Tip, a premium match bullet that turned the shooting world askew. It was superbly accurate, but fragile, with core separation a common complaint. Bullet manufacturers were learning to make better bullets, and at the same time, optics were getting better and less expensive.
In the '90s, the internet was coming of age, and online gun communities came into being. It was much easier to share information and the shooting companies began learning to use computers to design rifles, optics and ammo. It may have been Savage Arms who led the way, producing the fist out-of-the-box rifle that would routinely shoot into MOA with any degree of regularity. By the turn of the century, the gun companies had caught their stride, and were turning out rifles, ammo, and optics that let the American shooter take advantage of accuracy that we had never seen.
Nowadays we have better rifles, bullets and optics than we've ever had before, at prices that generally make it affordable to the large population. Just three yeas ago, I picked up a new rifle (Ruger American), a new scope (Leupold Rifleman) and put together a box of ammo using new components. The first group out of it hovered around that magical one-inch mark, and with with subsequent shooting got much better. For less than $600 I had put together a combo that was simply much better than anything that was obtainable 50 years ago at thee times the price.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. We are living in the golden age of rifle shooting.