Question of the Day: How Old Were You When You Started Shooting?

The Range at Austin (courtesy thetruthaboutguns.com)

Seeing this young ‘un shooting at The Range at Austin, I remembered playing with toy guns as a kid. Cowboys and Indians, Americans vs. Nazis, cops and robbers. But my family was anti-actual gun. So I started my shooting career at the tender young age of 38. I like to think I’ve made up for lost time, but how could I? I lost three decades of valuable shooting life. How old were you when you first shot your first gun? Who taught you? How?

comments

  1. avatar AaronW says:

    Five years old. My father bought some BB and pellet guns and showed me how to shoot.
    Didn’t shoot a firearm until the age of 22, when I went to a small resort near Poughkeepsie, NY, where they had a one-shot bolt-action .22. They gave us CB/gallery rounds!

  2. avatar BZA says:

    I was 12 years old when I first shot a gun. My dad taught me to shoot with an old Mossberg 410 bolt action shotgun. We were shooting at an old tree stump on our backyard at about 25yards. I completely missed the stump alltogether on my very first shot. But that started the addiction that has done nothing but grown since.

    1. avatar ScholarCat says:

      Same here for the Mossberg 410 bolt action shotgun. My dad bought it for me when I was 10. I remember being afraid to shoot it the first time. It is in my safe right now.

  3. avatar Swilson says:

    Started at about 5 or 6, with dad supporting my arms and shoulders, firing an old Colt Police Positive .38 Spl (not recommended) in a kudzu covered gully. From there, it was an old bolt action .22 LR, although at this point I can’t remember the manufacturer, although it was OLD, I think from 1912 or 1914 IIRC. Around age 9 or 10, dad moved me up to a Marlin 60 he bought in the late 1960’s- early 1970’s.

  4. avatar Rick the Bear says:

    Maybe about 10 with my Dad’s H&R .22 SA. He had one of this G-shaped bullet traps and we shot in the basement.

  5. avatar Chris. says:

    5 or so. Don’t remember exactly, bb gun. Moved up to .22’s shot “a couple times a month” up until late teens. Then just drifted away from it. Quit hunting quit shooting.

    Joined the Air Force, qualified on both the M-16 & the M-9; Bought my first handgun (Colt 1991a1). Shot it once, set it in the drawer and didn’t touch it for years. 2005; Started hunting again as a way to bond with my father. Bought a bolt action rife. A few years after that, I started buying ammo for the 1911 again; started shooting whenever near a gravel pit. Bought my .22 pistol, bought a 9mm, got into some local action pistol matches. I currently shoot once a week. So it comes and goes in cycles.

  6. avatar Drake_Burrwood says:

    Somewhere between 10 and 13, I had a air rifle but was given a beautiful brass Benjamin pump Air pistol. I basically started going out to the barn and did a meditation exercise.
    Spend a fifteen minutes and often much more sitting and firing BB after BB, using both.

  7. avatar Snatchums says:

    Shot a .22 rifle for the first time around the age of 10, a couple different .22 pistols through my teens but it was when I was 17 and went to go visit my uncle in the Arizona desert that I caught the bug. We shot about 12 different guns that day, rifles and handguns. From a Thompson Contender in .223 to a Ruger .45 colt spitting out .454 Casull level handrolls. Was a great day.

  8. avatar george says:

    9 I think on a Stevens single shot .22 , bought my first .22 that year too , that was before the 1968 law and all hardware stores sold guns and ammo

  9. avatar BegrudgingMillenial says:

    I grew up plinking with Dad. We’d put like 1500 rounds into the hillside at a church friend’s cow pasture. Great great fun. I can’t rememeber what age we started

    One man moved in with an extensive collection of cool stuff which he let us try out. And with which another friend proceeded to shoot our picnic blanket with a mac10 and set the hillside on fire with a tracer round. Good memories.

    The best memories were just plinking with the old speedmaster and bersa, though. Learned a great deal about gun safety dos and don’ts. Like don’t decock a gun by trying to slowly lower the hammer. You will almost shoot your family jewels off that way. *facepalm* Worst part was the gun had a decocker the whole time. Yes I still feel stupid about that one.

    1. avatar RustyTheBoyRobot says:

      So, you almost decocked yourself trying to decock a gun without using the decocker?

  10. avatar Sam C says:

    25. My dad got me a .22 rifle for Christmas and I never looked back. I have been a 2A absolutist since I was 19 or so. I went from the most liberal liberal that ever liberaled as a high school student to a Conservatarian after my first semester of university. I was raised by my anti-gun mother and never had exposure to guns. I have since converted her to our side.

    1. avatar Art out West says:

      Like you, I was older (19-20), and one of my old buddies from High School took me out to shoot 22 rifles. That day, I fell in love with shooting, and with the Marlin 60.

      I’d shot BB guns before that, with friends, and at church camp. They aren’t the same as a real gun (even a lowly .22).

      I’ve tried to make up for lost time. More than 20 years later, and I still love the Marlin 60.

      1. avatar FLResident says:

        A big Marlin 60 fan here as well. It was the first gun I bought when I turned 18, some 30+ years ago. Used to go out and put brick after brick of cheap 22lr through it plinking on the weekends. I bet it has 10K+ rounds down the pipe. I took it to the range a few weeks ago and shot a 3 shot group (from a rest) @50yds with all 3 holes touching. Best $68.99 I every spent at Kmart.

  11. avatar Mike Oregon says:

    6ish, Ruger .22 Bearcat and a Stevens .22 semiautomatic from the 40s. I took my children to the local Sheriff’s range and had them go through a gun safety course at 12 years old (a compromise with their mother, then sorta anti-gun now has her ccw permit, but that’s another story) then we shot once a month or so till they were married and now have their own lives, guns.

  12. avatar Ralph says:

    Eight years old, shooting Marlin rifles and gallery shorts at amusement parks in Brooklyn.

    My grandfather took me to the galleries, but since he had no idea how to shoot, I was self-taught by necessity.

  13. avatar jwtaylor says:

    5, with a Savage Model 24 in 22Mag/410. Took my first deer with it 2 or 3 years later, with a .410 slug. 27 years later my son took his first deer with that same gun, again, with the .410 slug.
    Dad taught me the basics, and they were all good, sound practices that I still use today. Then my uncle Frank gave me the masters level course throughout the years. I’m still learning from that old Marine.

  14. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I believe I was in kindergarten or first grade when I shot a firearm for the first time, with my father’s help shooting a pump-action rifle in .22 LR of course. I still have a picture in my mind of the stream exploding where the bullet hit the water. I don’t believe I ever shot rimfire or centerfire again (with or without my father) until I was a teenager.

    When I was in fourth or fifth grade, my parents bought me a Crossman 760 10-pump pellet rifle. I probably put more than 2,000 BBs and pellets through that thing in the woods near my home, totally unsupervised of course.

    At some point in high school, I purchased my own Marlin Model 60 semi-automatic rifle in .22 LR of course. I probably shot about 800 rounds through that beauty. I still have it, it still looks great, and it still functions flawlessly as far as I know.

    Almost all of my shooting has been on my own, shooting only occasionally with friends or family.

  15. avatar John V says:

    Sixteen years old, i got started with a FNH FAL.
    Those were the days.
    JV

  16. avatar kenneth says:

    I was six. My Dad taught me to shoot on his Remington(before they were owned by Geo Soros!) M121 fieldmaster pump .22. I also killed my first animal(gopher) with that rifle a year later. Nothing like seeing an animal turned inside out by a bullet to impress upon a young mind that guns aren’t toys!
    By the time I was 12 I was roaming the prairie with a Ruger Bearcat in a leather hunter holster. That firearm taught me not to carry an old style SA with all chambers loaded when it fell out as I was leaving the saddle. Landed on the hammer(naturally), and discharged a .22 short right past my right ear.
    I guess you could call that learning a lesson the hard way. I tore that gun apart in an effort to learn why, which I did once I saw how the hammer, hand, and cylinder stop worked. More than anything else, that one incident led me into gunsmithing. I had to keep the pistol loaded in order to shoot the varmints that I collected bounties on to keep me in ammo. So, I hit on the idea of keeping the chamber under the hammer empty. Only much later did I learn that people had been doing that since the old west… Silly me, I thought it was MY idea! 🙂

  17. avatar cmac890 says:

    I was 8 when I first got to shoot an air rifle. It was at the national guard armory our scout troop met at. I’ll never forget it, it was like christmas morning. My parents were strict about guns; we only ever had very few pretend ones, so this felt like a big step in growing up.

    First real guns were .22’s at scout camp, which was always my favorite part.

  18. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    6. Dad was an instructor for the navy at the range across the highway from Miramar naval air station.
    Watching jets dogfight and shooting guns…
    It was horrible!
    Plus, I had two really cool uncles whe were way into guns, shooting and reloading.
    Good times

  19. avatar Defens says:

    About age 6, with Dad’s Mossberg .22LR bolt action. He purchased single-shot Remington youth models for my brother and I when I was 8 and my brother was 4, which we shot under his supervision. My brother and I picked berries and earned money for chores around our farm to buy our own Stevens single-shot, break action shotguns at ages 12 and 8. I still own both of my first guns.

    We shot wax bullets from a Colt .38spl at similarly young ages. The first handgun I owned was my high school graduation gift, a Colt Trooper Mk. III in .357. I still own and proudly carry that one, as well.

  20. avatar TrueBornSonofLiberty says:

    I’ve only been shooting for 25 years, because I started so late compared to most other folks into guns. It wasn’t until I was in my mid 20’s when I started shooting and buying guns.

  21. avatar RCC says:

    .22 bolt action at 8 with uncle and cousins at grandfathers property. Own .22 single shot from 14. Bought Ruger 10 .22 at 16. First 12 ga at 17

    Joined Australian Army at 17 so mostly local version of 7.62 mm FAL plus M60, M16A1 etc. Steyr came in just before I left.

    Currently still original .22 plus others plus several .223, 30-06, 12 gauges and 9mm.

  22. avatar Rokurota says:

    I was something like 12. My dad had lost his job and told us there would be no presents that Christmas. My sister and I were fine with that. We come down Christmas morning and find one gift: a Daisy BB rifle. We took it out back and plinked pinecones. I kept going back. So when my wife rolls her eyes at a new gun, I tell her it’s because a dad couldn’t bear to let his kids get nothing on Christmas.

    1. avatar Defens says:

      That’s a great story!

  23. avatar Ian in Transit says:

    The ripe old age of 4 with a little of my dad’s help.. Living on a range it just seemed right. H&R .22 revolver and an old pump .22 rifle. Living on a ranch it just seemed like time.

  24. avatar Noishkel says:

    I don’t recall the exact age, but I was about 8 or 10 or so when I first shot a firearm. I don’t recall the exact weapon, but it was some sort of tube fed .22. I wasn’t really given any proper instruction that first time, but the situation was very controlled by my uncle who took us all shooting.

    Later on my own father gave me a basic run down of how to safely handle a hunting rifle when I got into it at about 13, and I was given proper classroom instruction when I took the state mandated hunters safety course. Only then I could legally hunt deer with the rest of the family. My own family was rather poor, so we had to go down and do organized hunts to stock up on game each season. Turkey, bore, and deer every year.

    We didn’t even do much target shooting between seasons. We all were about 2 steps removed from Kentucky Coal minors, actually on the other side of the Appalachian from them. Ever shot had to count.

  25. avatar MiserableBastard says:

    Late 70’s at 12, my father enrolled me in an NRA hunter safety class while he was getting his Kitchen-table FFL. Over the next couple years I shot trap a couple times. I lost interest in guns until about 3.5 years ago. Now I am a gun nut 🙂 and 2A evangelist.

  26. avatar David says:

    After reading these comments it is obvious. The 22 lr is a highly addictive substance. Or at the very least a gateway drug.

  27. avatar Anon in CT says:

    18 years old – Canadian Army basic training.

  28. avatar BLoving says:

    My earliest memory of firearms wasn’t the one where I was the one wielding the rifle, that was my father holding it while we shivered together in a box blind on a singularly unsuccessful deer hunt back when I was at least six but younger than nine.
    I can recall with perfect clarity, however, the day my young son was first taught to shoot:
    It was a typical Texas winter day – slightly overcast and we had changed out of our jeans into shorts by noon after the morning’s hunt. After getting a bit of lunch my brothers and our kids had loaded up our .22s to do a bit of plinking. Out in the yard being the hunting lease cabin, someone had placed a spare tripod stand overlooking a plowed field. Thinking that shooting from an elevated stand would be good practice, we set several orange shooting clays into the furrows of the field at varying distances.
    After showing my young son the basics of how to load and fire my Ruger 10/22, I helped him up the ladder and passed the rifle to him. Before his magazine was half-empty, he was grinning like a maniac; and when the tenth round was fired and I told him to step down for his cousins to take a turn, he refused to budge and instead pleaded for more ammo.

  29. avatar Ing says:

    Well, if you count BB guns, then I started at age 11. No instruction on safety that I remember, just common sense. Spent an idyllic summer killing the plague of grasshoppers that descended on our yard.

    If you mean real firearms, then I was 13. Took Hunter Safety and got my Rifleman merit badge at a dusty Boy Scout camp in southern Utah. Shooting at the rifle range was the only thing I did there in my free time. Not even canoeing on the reservoir could hold a candle to it.

    Somehow, in the 25 years that followed, I mostly forgot about guns and even became mildly anti (though always pro-self-defense). Then I bought a Marlin Model 60 on a whim, and the first shot brought all of that joy back at once.

    If I had to produce a patronus, Harry Potter style, that moment — shared with my son — would be right at the top of the powerful-memory list, next to getting married and the birth of my kids.

  30. avatar Mike B in WI says:

    I must have been 5 or 6. I remember shooting a Marlin 81 DL bolt action .22LR and a J. C. Higgins .22LR semi-auto with a scope and a retractable sling (which I thought was very cool). I also shot a 1922 Colt Woodsman .22LR.

    We would shoot at beer cans on sticks across a pond, using the dam as a berm. My dad would kneel down and put the rifle on his shoulder as a support so I could shoot it. Great memories! And best of all, I now own the Marlin and the Colt. Traded the JC Higgins a couple of years ago, which had a cracked stock by then, as a partial payment for a new Mossberg 930 JM Pro shotgun for my 3-gun habit.

  31. avatar Kyle says:

    10 years old with a 12 gauge shotgun, and no pre-warning….

    ….and it was almost 10 years before I even picked a gun up again.

  32. avatar GunzGunzGunz says:

    I started shooting when I was 20. A little late.

    As penance, I’ve been teaching my kids to shoot as soon as they can pick up a gun.

    Khorne only cares that the young ones start learning to shoot as soon as possible.

  33. avatar Parnell says:

    Started at 8 on the farm in Md. of my uncle & aunt. At 11, dad took me to the NYPD firing range on City Island and taught me to shoot his service revolvers (I still have them).

  34. avatar former water walker says:

    I guess I was 9 or 10. Shot a very cool 22 six gun and a bolt action 22 my dad had… dont remember the make. Later in Boy Scouts shotgun in maybe 410. No eye or ear protection in the 60’s of course…

  35. avatar Koolhed says:

    4 1/2 years old. I vividly remember that summer of 1965, because my dad also bought me a Taco mini-bike at the same time. His two favorite things, firearms and motorcycles, quickly became my favorites, too.

    I remember waking up on Sunday morning with a ringing in my ears from gunfire, because we’d gone shooting on Saturday. I also remember liking it… Hearing protection? Nah. Your ears will stop ringing in a week or so…

  36. avatar Starfreak74 says:

    Glad I’m not the only one who started late!!
    27 and that was only a couple of years ago. I had a close encounter of the drunk neighbor kind… now, 2A absolutist 100%. Got my wife and my daughter shooting.

  37. avatar Roymond says:

    Age? Not sure; somewhere between 10 and 14. But I remember the place and situation quite clearly: on the back patio (which we’d poured by hand the year before as I recall), with the picnic table as a rest, shooting at a metal coffee can full of water with dad’s Remington “bunny gun” .22 bolt-action. The goal was to see how many holes we could get, each one lower than the last, to drain the water out. My brother’s best was five; I managed eight (in a dozen actual shots; holes higher than a previous hole didn’t count.

    And my first time at a moving target was at the slough behind a family friends’ farm: their boys carefully stacked glass jars on a heavy plank and set it floating in the slough, which moved it along at a good walking pace. The goal there was to see how many shots hitting the jars we could make before clearing it — the more shots, the better. Though what I mostly remember from that was how our mom was SO upset that we were spreading broken glass in the slough! (Our hosts’ dad said not to worry; the yearly flood would scour it out into the bay and eventually to the beach where the waves would turn it into sand.)

  38. avatar Bob Watson says:

    I was corrupted when I was only 11 years old. Go Boy Scouts of America! Our scoutmaster was a major stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force base. Bolt action .22 rifles with single shot adapters. We learned safe gun handling and marksmanship the right way.

  39. avatar Snake Plisskin says:

    BB gun at about 8. 22 rifle (which I still have Remington 550) at about 9 and 20 gauge shotgun at 10 (which I also still have H/R Topper Jr). this was from about 1967 to 1970 span. Miss my dad too.

  40. avatar JN says:

    Somewhere between 4 and 6 with BB’s and pellets. My cousins and I would spend time at my Grandparent’s house. Grandpa’s “babysitting” was leaning a sheet of plywood against the garage, setting out some old coffee cans, handing each of us a bb or pellet gun, and putting a box of bbs or tin of pellets between us. We were good for hours. He also taught us to whittle the same way; here is a stick and a sharp knife, always push the knife away from you, go.

    I graduated to “my own” Winchester model 67 when I was 11.

  41. avatar Dave Lewis says:

    I was about 10 and spent a week at the old Pinebrook church camp in Stroudsburg PA. We had a one hour rifle class every morning right after the Bible study – learned safety, nomenclature, aiming, etc Then we got to shoot maybe 25 rounds out of single shot Remington bolt .22s. What a horribly corrupting experience that scarred me for life. God AND guns.

  42. avatar Gordon in MO says:

    7 or 8 with a BB gun.
    9 or 10 with pump up 17cal air rifle
    11 or 12 with single shot 22
    14 with my Dad’s 22 semi auto
    16 with my Dad’s 16 ga pump shotgun. He bought it new as a teenager and was very protective of it.
    I have them all now.

  43. avatar Slow Joe Crow says:

    First time with a rifle was a .22 in summer camp, first time with a pistol was when I was 19 and we were using the high school’s indoor range over winter break.
    And then I had a long hiatus until 2014. My daughter got a much earlier start with a pellet gun at 10, a .22 rifle at 11 and a .22 pistol and an AR at 12.

  44. avatar Just Joe says:

    I was three when my Swiss Grandfather put a Daisy Model 25 in my hands. I shot at a can, hit it and it went flying…I was hooked, and still am, 55 years later…I still have that Model 25, and it still works.

  45. avatar BCNU says:

    Not until 62 because I was trapped in NY, but I am free now.

  46. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    My momma always kept a Beretta Bobcat in her hoo-ha, so I pretty much came out guns drawn.

  47. avatar BLAMMO says:

    11. Ten Mile River Boy Scouts camp. The smell of gun powder is so distinctive, it still reminds me of my first time every time I get a whiff.

  48. avatar Darkman says:

    I was 6 or 7. It was a 22 single shot rifle. Got MY first gun at 8 also a 22 and my first shotgun at 12 a 410.

  49. avatar Ken says:

    First shots: 1957 – 5 years old – 22’s
    First gun that was mine: 7 years old – a single shot 22 rifle – still have it
    First shotgun that was mine: 9 years old – Browning A5 20 ga. – still have it
    First handgun that was mine: 15 years old – Browning Challenger 22 – still have it

  50. avatar Bruce Monro says:

    I was about 6-7 yrs old,when my Dad took us three kids out with our Godfather,
    when I shot my Dad’s Colt SAA 45 LC with a 7 1\2″ barrel.
    Quite a recoil for us young kids,but it was so very fun. An original Colt circa 1910 era. Also shot the JC.Higgins 22cal semi auto rifle as well.
    Went on to own my first 22lr rifle at 13, that my Mom bought for me($50) so
    I could use it on my High School Rifle Team!!

  51. about 9 as I remember. shot a single shot 410.hunted rabbits and squirrels with my grandfather. was hunting geese and ducks the next year.

  52. avatar Mad Max says:

    I started late at 53 (about 5 years ago).

    Started by getting a license to carry, bought a S&W E-Series 1911, took an NRA Basic Pistol class where I fired the 1911 for the first time.

    Have been going to the range every Saturday morning putting 50 rounds down range ever since. Belong to two clubs and go there with a group of other OFWGs.

    Took several more classes, built 2 rifles, and now have about 40 pistols & rifles in the safe.

  53. avatar JDH says:

    7 or 8. My dad bought me a Remington Nylon 66 for Christmas.It’s probably had at least 20,000 rounds through it (weekend camping trips sounded like WW2). I still have it, I’m 63. Works fine.

  54. avatar anon says:

    I was 31 when I first bought a gun and shot it. Funnily enough growing up my dad refused to buy a gun, but after I bought mine he got one too.

  55. avatar ThatGunGuy says:

    got my first rifle for Christmas when i was 8, 50 years ago this year
    was shooting my bb gun long before that.

  56. avatar Garrison Hall says:

    First time with a rifle and shotgun (same day) when I was 7 or 8 and just big enough to hold a rifle—and old Remington bolt-action .22 that I still have. I hit a nickel with it at about 20 feet. Still have that nickel, too.

  57. avatar Jason says:

    I was four. My dad sat me on his lap and had me shoot his old Sears .22LR. 42 years later I still love shooting that gun. Unfortunately my dad is no longer around to shoot with.

  58. avatar joetast says:

    11- Daisy bb gun . 16 crossman 760 and it was like a magnum compared to that bb gun, Me an the beagle (Ladybug) got 14 rabbits one day. I’ve ate so many rabbits I don’t like m no more. Lol

  59. avatar JD says:

    I was 6. Dad bought the 100 year anniversary of the Win 1894 carbine in 30-30. I have that rifle now. Anyway I remember sitting on his lap and shooting cans with it. I had shot 22 rifle with him before that but the yellow boy made an impression.
    I had a bb gun at 8 and my first real rifle a 22 at 12.

  60. avatar Klaus Von Schmitto says:

    I never thought about it till this was posted but I’ve now been shooting 50 years. Started with a bolt action 410 in the first hunting season after my 6th birthday so that would have been fall of 1967.
    First gun I owned was a Marlin 82 for my 10th birthday. First pistol was a Colt Woodsman for the 12th.
    First gun I bought on my own was a Mossberg 500 and I was 16. Not sure if that was even legal back then but I bought it brand new in a gun shop.

    1. avatar Darkman says:

      Back in the good old days. Made my first purchase at 16 years old. A 30/30. Got it at a Western Auto store in 1974. Not sure but I seem to remember using Green Stamps to pay for part of it.

  61. avatar dragos111 says:

    I had to have been about 5 when I got my first gun, a Savage 22/.410 over/under. Used to shoot that in the mountains outside Salt Lake City. Good fun.

    My son started shooting 22’s at age about 7. We would go to the Fox Valley Rifle Range near Carpentersville, IL. They had the best plinking pond there. Toss marshmallows or soft wood chunks into the pond and shoot at them. The winner was the person who could get it to jump the highest! Too bad that closed. It was a great place!

  62. avatar kap says:

    Neighbors BB gun about age 6, age 8 brother in law’s .22 pistol, age 10 a cousins M1 carbine, age 12 a 20 ga shotgun {black powder shells}

  63. avatar George Venable says:

    6 years old, my Marine Pop’s old Springfield 15Y .22 he had used on a trapline before WWII, He said it cost $2.98 out of a Sears Roebuck catalog.After the war he used it to feed my Moms rabbits and squirrels until she was sick of ’em .
    I remember getting off the school bus , getting the rifle and a few cartridges and waiting for him to come home for supper from the fields, I’d have some cans/etc. set up and he’d supervise me “killing ’em” and correct my shooting positions. I never even thought about firing it without his sayso. After I was 7 was allowed to hit the woods and bring home some squirrel meat on my own.
    Never were we allowed a BB gun. Pops knew kids (some of ’em) would shoot each other with ’em, said you might as well form safe habits with a real gun. He agreed with Patton about the M1 Garand. Gave him one when he turned 75(92 now). And of course the old Springfield is still here – if it was notched for all the squirrels,rabbits,hogs,cows,groundhogs,crows,pigeons/etc. it has accounted for, there would be no wood left !

  64. avatar skiff says:

    A .22 rifle at Boy Scout Camp Yawgoog, Rockville, RI. I was 12 or 13 years old.

  65. avatar Brian says:

    Age 6, Marlin Model 81 using 22 shorts at Bell’s Indoor Range in Illinois

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