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At what age should I introduce my son to firearms.

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by jmresistance, Jul 21, 2011.

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  1. jmresistance

    jmresistance Member

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    I have a 3 year old and I would like some advice on when to introduce him to firearms safety, let him shoot my gun, buy him his own gun, etc. For now everything is in my safe or on my person and he knows not to touch daddy's guns. I think maybe 4 or 5 to sit him down and have a basic safety talk. I plan on buying him a .22 Cricket or something similar when he goes into kindergarten (it would stay in my safe).

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. mortablunt

    mortablunt Member

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    Introduce him to safety? So soon as he can understand you and take you seriously.
    Let him shoot your gun? Maybe about 8 or so, with supervision and with a lot of safety drilling. Definitely make it a good behavior occasional privilege.
    Buy him his own gun? Maybe when he's 12, so long as you control all access to it and the ammo.

    I come from a non-gun culture, so I'm probably very different on the ages than a lot of you.
     
  3. The-Reaver

    The-Reaver Member

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    I was introduced at 4 with safety and rules. Then I grew into shooting.
    My son on the other hand didn't take to well to the rules, he still doesn't understand the concept of firearms being dangerous if not used properly. So I'm still waiting for him to mature a little bit more. He's 6 now, I may try again nearer to his 7 or 8 Birthday depending on how responsible he is.
     
  4. X-JaVeN-X

    X-JaVeN-X Member

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    I kind of started him on the gun safety with a couple nerf guns when he was 2. One has a magazine that drops out and has a scope and all. The other looks like a double barreled shotgun and has shells that you load in it and get ejected. I taught him basic safety using those. He got the same speech (and still gets) about not touching "daddy's guns". I got him a bb gun this past Christmas (he had just turned 4 a couple months earlier) and he can currently shoot a 20 oz. soda bottle of water from about 8-10 yards away with about a 50% hit rate. I have a little pump .22 rifle, but really...the issue with him and something like that currently isn't his apptitude for shooting it, but the fact that the gun is too long for him to control. I will probably be looking into something in a .22 caliber that is shorter in the next year or two...but for now the bb gun is plenty to keep him entertained and learning the fundamentals.

    Oh, and for anyone looking....check out the Marlin Cowboy by crosman. It is pretty much direct competition to the Red Ryder bb guns, but I like it much better. Unlike the new red ryders that have a plastic cocking lever...the cowboy marlin is a metal lever and overall, imho, a much nicer "starter" bb gun.

    A lot of folks may think 4 is too early, but I think it depends on the child's interest and aptitude for it. I don't actually remember learning to shoot...that's how young I was. My grandfather taught me and to this day, shooting a rifle is the only thing I do left handed. I was told that when I was being taught to shoot, I didn't have the dexterity to close my left eye and could only close my right eye (which was my strong eye) and so he taught me to shoot left handed so I could aim with my left eye. Now handguns I learned later and shoot them right handed.
     
  5. Bubbles

    Bubbles Member

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    It really depends on their maturity level. We never hid the guns from our daughter (she's six now) and if she wanted to look at one (unloaded, obviously), she could do so. Because we didn't make a big deal out of them, she's not any more curious about them than she was about a couch or a chair.

    She started shooting last fall at the age of 5, single-shot .22LR and a suppressed .223 bolt gun after she could recite the safety rules. She's also been through Eddie Eagle and we make sure regularly that she knows what to do should she come across an unattended firearm.

    [​IMG]
    Sniping... So easy, even a Kindergartener can do it.
    ;)
     
  6. Ohio Gun Guy

    Ohio Gun Guy Member

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    I agree^^^ guns cant be these mythical creatures to be discussed, but never seen. If you have them (Guns & Kids) around, you need to teach safety, and take the curiocity out of them.

    I started my son at 4, he saw me cleaning one, asked questions.... to my suprise he knew it was a gun & where and what the trigger was called. So if you think they don have a clue, dont be so sure. In addition to the basic rules of firearm safety I teach my kids the following:
    1. Only touch guns with me or Grandpa - no one else!
    2. If you want to see one, etc. ask me... We'll get it out. (Yes they are still stored properly)
    3. If you are at a friends house and someone gets out a gun, come home right away, tell Mom or Dad.
    4. The first thing we do is check to make sure it's unloaded and the safety is on. (He knows the red dot means the safety is off.)
    5. never point them at yourself or others.
    6. Keep your finger off the trigger.
    7. They are not toys, but they can be fun, & we go shooting together :).
    8. For now, I keep track of the other big rules with him on my own - know your target, proper ammo, Maintenance, etc.

    Like others said, I started showing and teaching at 4. This summer (5.5 years old) we went to the range. He likes it. Brings a smile when he asks if we can go to the range. (Ive got a 22 henry and a 22 savage bolt action and they do well as trainers) Dont forget the earplugs & safety glasses (Good job above).
     
  7. MICHAEL T

    MICHAEL T Member

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    A 4 I took my out side (We live in country ) and shot a milk jug of water close up I wanter them to see the reaction of the jug and maybe get wet. I then told them that why you never touch a gun with out me or their mother present. Ay 6 BBgun and 8 we started on 22 's I have raised 5 now oldest is 29 and a Iraq vet makes living in middle east and asia in security. field Other 4 are all girls 26 down to 16 and we all still shoot on our side yard range..
     
  8. Dentite

    Dentite Member

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    I took out my oldest boy at about 3 1/2 years old. I shot a water jug as an example of the power of a gun and why he's to never touch them without me holding the gun. He's shot .22LR rifle and .22LR pistol and most recently (he'll be four in 2 months) he shot my .38 special revolver. BUT when I saw he's shot I mean we both hold the gun and he pulls the trigger. He never has control over any loaded firearm. He gets some trigger time and lots of smiles and starting to learn the rules.

    When will be able to shoot on his own? I don't know but maybe 5-6 with a rifle and me in reach of the rifle. Just my .02.
     
  9. Bigphil54

    Bigphil54 Member

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    I was introduced to guns as early as i remember (4 or 5). I was taught basic safety with BB guns and was not allowed to point my toy guns at people. Then when my father deemed me responsible enough with a BB gun i got moved up to a 22, one shot at a time. as i became more responsible I was allowed to use magazines in the 22. i was always taught to look behind my target for a good backstop and no possible casualties due to a bad shot or ricochet. There is proper "age" limit but rather a maturity limit and the ability to handle a gun safely.
     
  10. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    My kids have always been mildly interested in shooting, and the two older ones were sitting in my lap pulling triggers at 3 years old. (Daddy doing ALL controling of the weapon. Junior just squinting and making it go bang.) That included AKs and 1911s for my daughter, but the middle guy didn't like the concussion of centerfire rifle rounds until a bit older. (We go heavy on all safety devices, of course, and even so, I minimized their exposure to rifles to a few rounds.)

    This is my daughter, age SEVEN:
    [​IMG]

    With my 629 and my IDPA 200 gr. .44 Spc. loads.

    By that point she had grip and stance principles down pretty well. Still working on sight alignment, but we really only do family range days a handful of times a year.

    Now, my daughter is nine and does a fantastic job with the .22 single-shot Savage Cub.

    Her younger brother, at six, is still just into making noise and enjoying being out with dad. And that's fine. Each kid will internalize the safety rules and develop their skills at a different rate.
     
  11. SmokeJensen

    SmokeJensen Member

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    I'm glad I ran across this thread. Just last night, my son, which is 2 1/2, asked me "Daddy when me shoot?" I didn't have the answer. I figure in a couple years but he is showing alot of interest and paying alot of attention. He sees some of the hunting shows on TV and it blows my mind how excited a 2 1/2 year old can get over a gun/deer/alligator.

    I would definitely start him on a weak bb gun with me helping. The nerf gun is a good idea. I really can't wait until he is a shooter. I remember the fun I had when I was young and I wanna feel what its like with the tables turned.
     
  12. SARDiver

    SARDiver Member

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    My oldest was about 3 1/2 when she saw me cleaning my weapon for the first time. SHe asked to hold it. I went over the rules, cleared it, and helped her hold it.

    I also told her that I would show her any of my guns whenever she asked. She took me up on it. Whenever she asked to see a gun, I stopped what I was doing and showed it to her. It was a bit of a pain for about 3 weeks, then it tapered off. We went over the rules each and every time we pulled one out. She could recite the safety rules before she was 5, and understood them well enough to practice them and remind me of them not long after.

    She doesn't like to shoot (too loud for her), but is right where she should be, in my opinion, safety-wise.

    As soon as they ask, it's the right time, in my opinion.
     
  13. IBEWBULL

    IBEWBULL Member

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    Great thread.
    In addition to firearms safety, I hope many of us will add:
    1. Some history lessons to the list.
    2.Fire safety
    3.First aid/CPR
    The list goes on but I will not at this time.
    I don't remember when our oldest son shot for the first time.
    I do remember the test I gave all the kids.
    I had an old junk .22 pellet pistol which would not work.
    I left it on a chair in the living room to see what would happen next.
    All three of the munchkins came running up stairs yelling, "Dad you left a gun out."
    Thanks for telling me I replied and then I told them it was a test to see what they would do. I gave them all a buck as a reward.
    Our oldest son is a BM-3 and has his CCW in Virginia now. Our youngest son hunts and is thinking of a .22 target pistol. Our daughter still has not taken her hunter safety class but enjoys target shooting with what ever she can get her hands on.
    They all know more about safety , guns, CPR than most folks I know.
     
  14. jmresistance

    jmresistance Member

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    Thanks for all the advice. He has been asking about my guns and he is somewhat familiar with the mechanics involved from using his Nerf and other toy guns. He brings me his nerf gun and says"Cock it for me, daddy". He is familiar with terms like trigger, barrel, hammer, shell, bullet, etc. I guess that means it's time to start talking about safety.

    I haven't been really strict about how he plays with his toy guns, so now I have to make sure he understands the difference. I grew up playing "Cowboys and Indians" and "Cops and Robbers" and we were constantly "shooting" at each other with our toy guns. I know that many parents discourage pointing toy guns at each other or don't allow them in the house at all. Schools will let a boy pretend he's a girl, but not pretend he has a gun... I feel like it's the parent's responsibility to make sure they understand the difference between a Nerf gun, a BB gun, and a "real" gun.

    Grown-ups shoot each other with Paintball guns. What's the difference?

    How do you all feel about that issue? Am I irresponsible for letting him pretend to shoot me with a toy gun?
     
  15. SARDiver

    SARDiver Member

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    A toy gun is a toy. An actual gun is not a toy. I think a simple, "You understand this is a pretend gun and not the kind that Daddy has, right? We don't point real guns at people," would suffice. Your example whenever you have a real gun out will be the biggest influence.

    If it isn't a toy gun he points, it will be his finger. The important thing is that he's taught the difference between pretend and real. This is also where your controlled access to firearms comes in.

    I had toy guns growing up. I understood the difference. Hell, if you give a 4 year old boy a doll, he will eventually try to fashion that doll into some form of weapon. That's how boys are. It's up to you to reinforce the rules.
     
  16. BADUNAME37

    BADUNAME37 Member

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    Around 6 years to introduce them and perhaps buying their first gun at about ten years (that is only to be used when an adult is present).
     
  17. Onmilo

    Onmilo Member

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    My kids were around and aware there were guns in the house by 2 or 3.
    When they were 6 they were allowed to shoot airguns and if they showed enough interest, they were allowed to begin shooting cartridge firearms by age 9.
    None of my kids have quite the same level of interest I have in firearms and that is OK.
     
  18. mgmorden

    mgmorden Member

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    This is always a personal decision, so it's up to you to decide what you think they're ready for and what you're comfortable. with.

    Just personally, my own numbers would be to start the safety stuff as early as possible. Just for shooting in general, I'd probably say 8 or so. I fired my first gun when I was five, but that was more of a novelty thing where my dad was really holding it and let me pull the trigger. It wasn't until I was 8 or so until I was allowed to fire another one (though I did get my first gun of my own at that time too).

    One thing that I did shoot a lot in the interim was my BB gun. Not sure, but it seems like the old BB gun is forgotten these days. IMHO, it's a great way to teach kids about muzzle control, and generally how to shoot and line up the sights. Plinking cans with my BB gun was a great pass-time as a young kid.

    Just make sure that regardless, they're ready to handle a weapon. Doesn't matter of they're 6 or 25 years old - if they're not familiar with the safety rules then they shouldn't be handling it yet.
     
  19. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    We didn't do toy guns at our house for a long while (though I had plenty growing up). The kids are still strongly cautioned against "shooting" at each other with them. It does seem to be part of their nature, though. I don't worry about it, but I do take the time each time I see it to give a brief "never point a gun ..." lecture.

    Eh... several things, and just my humble opinion. Paintball games have largely moved away from realistic looking weapons to appear closer to some kind of carpentry or automotive tool these days, which helps remove some of the association. Also, the sport is mostly played by much older kids and/or adults, so hopefully there is some maturing and discernment going on before the little ones are handed a "weapon" (actually now just called a "marker") and told to snipe their friends.

    The other facet to this might be the airsoft genre. And I don't endorse the casual "battle" use of those much at all. Where I do feel they are appropriate is in very serious force-on-force scenario training environments (like Simunitions) and that's way above something a young child should be exposed to.
     
  20. fallout mike

    fallout mike Member

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    I bought my son a .22 rifle at 5. I put a red dot on it and he can shoot what he's aiming at out to 30 yards. He turns 6 next month and says he wants a "cowboy gun". So I guess I see a .22 revolver being bought in the very near future.
     
  21. nortexeric

    nortexeric Member

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    I was introduced to firearms when I was around 5 yrs old. My dad didn't own guns at the time, we lived on base and it was too much of a hassle. But my grandpa did, and every spring break, summer, and Christmas vacation we went to his farm and I got to shoot. It was something I looked forward to all year. I started with a pellet rifle the first few trips, and when I was about 8, I got to use my grandpa's .22 mag. Once my dad got out of the service, we returned to Texas, and when I was 12 we bought our first rifle, a .22 bolt action. We would go to the range, come home, clean it, he would watch me and make sure I was being safe with it the whole time, correcting me whenever I messed up. Firearm safety had already been drilled into my head, almost my entire family was military. When I was 14, I had proven to my dad that I was responsible, and had a high respect for guns, and therefore, for my birthday, I was given a 10/22. Talk about an upgrade! Magazine instead of tube loading, semi auto, and just smooth looking. Eventually as time went on my dad got more guns, and I got to learn more. I think my dad did a wonderful job teaching me, and I intend to follow his example once I have my own kids. Right now my cousin's daughter is 6 yrs old, and she has already proven not only to be a sponge when it comes absorbing safety instruction and information, but the possibility of being a marksmen. I won't be surprised if by the time she's a teenager she out shoots me with a rifle.

    With all that said, there isn't a standard age of when you can introduce firearms, but I feel confident, with what I've seen in my family, that around the age of 5, after they get a firm understanding of gun safety and safe handling you can let them start shooting. Of course, don't forget to involve them in the cleaning and care of the guns, and in fact, that may be a way to start getting them involved. Also, someone earlier mentioned to teach the history of a gun. For me, that was a real big deal. Alot of people in my family had military surplus guns, M1 carbines, Garands, 1911, and even Colt SAA.

    Anyways, as its already been shown so far in this thread, kids are capable of understanding and using firearm safety at a relatively young age. I think you're on the right track. And this is definitely something I look forward to once I have sons/daughters.

    -Eric
     
  22. zfk55

    zfk55 Member

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    I think I may have posted this once before, but it's something my Father wrote. It's about my Sister and me and how we began. He wrote this maybe 10 or more years ago.

    ----------------------------------------------------------


    Prologue:
    By the age of 5 Tommy was convinced that his dad was hiding something very special in the closet on the top shelf. "Tommy, don't you ever go into that closet. Stay out! Something bad is in there".
    At 5 Tommy was definitely afraid to go into that closet..... but Tommy didn't stay 5 years old. Tommy grew, and so did his curiosity. He had stood in front of that closet a number of times when his dad came into the room and sternly warned. "Tommy!! Don't you dare!!" And Tommy didn't dare..... at least not then. But that day did come.... at age 8.
    Dad and mom were gone shopping. His Aunt was baby sitting and she was outside in the garden. Tommy was alone.
    Dragging a kitchen chair to the closet, he opened it, pushed the chair inside, climbed up and stood on his tiptoes. Nothing there......... nothing but a shoebox. Could that be it?? He carefully removed the box from the shelf, climbed down from the chair, sat on the closet floor and opened the box.
    *Wow! How cool! Its just like the cops use on TV!* He found that the cylinder rotated and made a clicking sound. The trigger was too hard to pull so he gave up trying, but..... the hammer! That thing at the back! He was able to pull it back. But now what? Looking at the muzzle of the pistol, he carefully squeezed the trigger. CLICK! *Wow! How cool* Click..... again.
    A scream from his Aunt caused him to drop the revolver. "What are you doing!!?? Give me that!!" Tommy dropped the pistol in fear. What had he done? It couldn't be that bad.... besides it looked so cool!
    Tommy's dad had made two serious mistakes. First and foremost..... Tommy knew nothing about the dangerous weapon he'd been holding. Secondly, and fortunately for Tommy....... it wasn't loaded.

    __________________________________________________ _____________

    She had just turned 4 years old, and I knew it was time. She knew there were firearms in the house because she'd seen them from the time she was aware of her surroundings, and they were always well out of reach, but her time had now come.
    First came the simple explanation of how any of the firearms in the house could hurt her, or Mommy or Dad. Nodding her head she signified that she understood.......... but she didn't. Not at that age.
    She followed me outside and thought the huge headset I put on her was pretty neat. I placed a milk jug full of water just 10 feet away. Donning my own ear protection, I put both of her hands around the grips on the huge .44 pistol. Covering both of her hands with mine, I held the pistol as far away from her little body as I could and slowly squeezed the trigger.
    Despite the headsets the noise and concussion were horrendous, at least for that little girl they were. The milkjug exploded in a vapor of water leaving Rosemary wide eyed and trembling.
    Not a word was said at that moment. I unloaded the pistol, took off her headset and we went to where the remenants of the shredded jug were. She looked up at me and I asked her if she understood how dangerous any of our firearms could be. She solemnly nodded her head and from that day until she received her own firearms she never went near any of them in the house.
    The odd and surprising thing was when I heard her tell her visiting friends to "stay away from all the firearms in the house!!" And she kept a weather eye on any young visitors.
    Fortunately all of her friends had parents who had provided an early education to their children as well.

    Mystery provokes curiosity. Education removes mystery.


    Among her peers and their families, we've never in our Family history heard of a child injured by a firearm in our area. Rosemary carrys a pistol with her wherever she goes, as does her Brother. We live a long way from town and in the past 10 years or so there are a lot of newcomers from the west coast cities, and with them comes their baggage, IE: crime.
    Both of my children were required to read two books before owning their own pistols. "In the Gravest Extreme" , Masaad Ayoob and "No Second Place Winners", Bill Jordan. Books outling the seriousness of carrying, the legal implications involved and practicality in use.
    Both of them were taught use and respect of both pistols and rifles. Both have their own pistols and rifles.
    I'll go into their education another time, but rest assured that both of them were taught respect for firearms at a very early age.

    Mystery provokes curiosity and potential disater. Education removes mystery and ingrains understanding. Think about this one with logic and practical application.
     
  23. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    Both of my boys were started at age 6 with the Marlin Lil Buckaroo (15YN) single shot 22 - they were both "mature enough" for that age to understand gun safety, protocol, etc.

    Only YOU can determine when your kids are at that stage of development - some are ready earlier, some later - not better or worse, just different
     
  24. USAF_Vet

    USAF_Vet Member

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    My step kids are 7 & 9, with upcoming birthdays. Last year, they both both bb guns. This year, they both get a 22. I'm starting them off with single shot's or maybe a bolt action. I want them to savor each round rather than blasting as many as they can as quick as they can with my semi-auto. I've taken them shooting, but before they even touch a gun, the recite the four rules no fewer than 3 times. Sometimes, I'll even quiz them on the four rules at random times.

    I also teach them how to operate a gun. If they can't operate it safely, they don't shoot. They have to point out where the safety is, and be able to identify if it is on or off. They have to show me they know how to load it and how to make it ready to fire.

    I try to make it an educational experience as much or more so than a fun experience.

    The governor just signed off on a bill in Michigan that does away with the minimum hunting age, allowing a mentorship hunting program. I can take my soon-to-be 8 year old step son hunting to show him the ropes. He can even hunt with me (small game) on my hunting license.


    I don't make any of my guns taboo. If they want to see them, all they have to do is ask. I'll clear it, show them it's not loaded, and hand it over. Neither are strong enough to work the action on most of my guns, but once they are, they will do a safety check on the guns, too.
     
  25. Fred in Wisc

    Fred in Wisc Member

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    I totally agree with taking away the "mystery" about guns. If you make something mysterious and forbidden, they will want to get into it eventually.

    My little girl has been aware that we have guns and "bullets" in the house since she was very small. She knows that she is not to touch them if Daddy is not with her, but anytime she asks, I will unlock the safe and she can see or handle whatever she wants. We have "Eddie Eagle" down pretty well, although she's busted me out with Momma a few times for empty brass in the laundry. Better a little too safe than not safe enough.

    We stop down at the gun club from time to time, usually to just take a nice walk on the woods archery range, look for deer and squirrels, and pick wild flowers. She also occasionally comes to the club meetings (they are pretty short, she can sit quietly through one- and she gets to eat Cheetos, a big bonus for her) Her Mom thinks the gun club is populated by militia rednecks even though she's never met any of them, I don't want my daughter to grow up with that prejudice.

    She'll will turn 5 next month and is by nature a cautious child. She just had her first range trip on Father's day. Shooting Super Colibris in a Cricket rifle, off Daddy's lap over a rest. That's going to be a great memory.

    I've started my nieces and nephews shooting at 10-14 depending on their parent's advice regarding their readiness, but they come from non-shooting families. We review safety rules before breaking out the guns, and I have been reprimanded by the younger ones for not opening the action on a nerf gun when it was handed to me. (They set me up, but I'm glad they are that concious of the rules).
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2011
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