August 7th, 2019

What’s Up with Those Pesky Flyers?

Sierra Bullets Reloading Flier Flyer load development groups

by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Gary Prisendorf
Occasionally someone will ask, “Why did I get a flyer that didn’t go in with the rest of my group?” If I had an answer that would stop flyers from happening, I would be rich.

There are many reasons why this can happen. Everything from gripping a forearm differently to variations in the brass casing, the list goes on and on. Most of the time the flyer is usually shooter induced and sometimes what you may think is a flyer, is just part of your group. There are a lot of shooters, that go out and test a load and they may shoot a 3/8” group at 100 yards and think that load is good. But I have seen far too many times that you can shoot another group, same load, same rifle and the next time you may get a 1 ¼” group.

Sierra bullets load development flyer group measurement target

The total opposite can also occur. You may shoot a 1 ¼” group and turn around and follow it with a 1/2″ group without changing anything. If you only shot the one group, you might decide that load wasn’t any good and move on to something else without really knowing what that load was capable of.

To really determine how a particular load is performing we need to shoot multiple groups and take an average of the group sizes to really see what that rifle/load combination is really capable of.

I suggest shooting a minimum of three 5-shot groups and averaging the group sizes before deciding if the load is acceptable or not. Obviously the more rounds you shoot for a group and the more groups that you shoot, you will get a much better representation of what that particular combination can do.

Now I’m not saying to go out and shoot 30 groups with 50 rounds in each group to determine how well your load is shooting. That would be a bit pointless, in some cases it would be time to re-barrel your rifle before your load development was finished.

In most cases, I feel that three to five, 5-shot groups will give you a pretty good representation of how a load will perform in that specific firearm.

Sierra Bullets reloading advice tips information

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March 31st, 2017

500-Round Group at 300 Meters — Now That’s a Test!

Sierra Bullets 500 round tunnel test

For load development, some guys shoot 3-shot groups. Other guys shoot 5-shot groups, or even 10-shot strings. But for testing its projectiles, Sierra Bullets takes it to another level entirely. A while back Sierra was testing its .30-Caliber 175gr HPBT MatchKing in the Sierra uynderground tunnel. The results are show above — a FIVE HUNDRED Round group!

The tunnel testers sent five full boxes of bullets down-range. Here are 500 Shots shot in a 300 meter tunnel. The group size is 2.82 inches (that’s edge to edge of the farthest shots, less the bullet diameter). This was a pressure/velocity test for a commercial customer. The Cartridge was .308 Win, loaded at 2.800″.The powder was Reloder 15. A 26″ barrel was shot from a return to battery rest. The gun was cleaned every 125 rounds and two foulers shot.

What do you think — could you beat this group from a bench for 500 rounds?

One Facebook poster joked: “500-round group? Everyone knows anything less than 1000-round groups are a waste of time and statistically irrelevant.”

Sierra Bullets Test Tunnel Barrels

Sierra’s 300 Meter Testing Tunnel
Ever wonder how (and where) Sierra tests its bullets? The answer is underground, in a 300-meter test tunnel located under Sierra’s factory in Sedalia, Missouri. The photo above shows the construction of the tunnel back in May, 1990. Like most bullet manufacturers, Sierra does live-fire bullet testing of its projectiles. Sierra’s 300-meter test range is the longest, manufacturer-owned underground bullet test facility in the world. Sierra offers free tours of the test tunnel as part of Sierra’s Factory Tour Program.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo 5 Comments »
December 30th, 2015

Ultimate Precision: Mac McMillan’s Historic .009″ Group

Mac McMillan .009 benchrest record group nbrsa.009″ — The Record That Stood for 40 Years.
In 1973 Mac McMillan shot an amazing 100-yard, .009″ five-shot group in a benchrest match. The .009″ group was measured with a 60x microscope for verification. Mac McMillan shot the group using a handbuilt prototype McMillan rifle with an early McMillan stock.

Mac’s .009″ group was the “Holy Grail” of rifle accuracy. This .009″ record was considered by many to be unbreakable, a record that would “stand for all time”. Well, it took 40 years, but someone finally broke Mac’s record with an even smaller group. In 2013, Mike Stinnett shot a .0077″ five-shot group using a 30 Stewart, a .30 caliber wildcat based on the 6.5 Grendel. Stinnett’s .0077″ group now stands as the smallest 100-yard group ever shot in registered benchrest competition.*
Read About .0077″ group HERE.

Stinnett’s success doesn’t diminish the significance of Mac McMillan’s .009″ group in the history of benchrest competition. For four decades Mac’s group stood as the ultimate standard of rifle accuracy*. For those of you who have never seen Mac McMillan’s .009″ group, here it is, along with the NBRSA World Record certificate. The target now hangs in the McMillan Family Museum.

Mac McMillan .009 benchrest record group nbrsa

Mac McMillan .009 benchrest record group nbrsa

*Somebody else might claim a smaller group, but unless moving backers or electronic targets were used, it cannot be verified. Moving target backers are used at registered benchrest matches to ensure that five (5) shots are actually fired in each group. That eliminates any doubt.

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July 26th, 2015

Big Bore Breakthrough — 30 Dasher for Group Shooting

Roy Hunter 30 Dasher Benchrest Rifle wood carbon fiber stock

Roy Hunter’s Brace of Two 30 Dashers
by Jeff Stover, IBS President
Short range benchrest at 100 and 200 yards is the domain of the 6PPC. Since 1978 that has been the case. Yes, an occasional 30BR, the King of Score Benchrest, will sometimes punch with the 6PPC in group competition. But a .30-caliber benchrest rifle will put you at a disadvantage in group shooting over the long haul — that’s certainly the conventional wisdom. Apparently, no one told Roy Hunter.

6PPC Group vs 30 Dasher Group at 200 yards — the “Fat Dasher” is definitely competitive.
Roy Hunter 30 Dasher Benchrest Rifle wood carbon fiber stock

Roy brought two rifles to the 2015 Group Nationals. Both were 30 Dashers. He did not even go with the milder 30 BR. The Dasher boasts more case capacity and, thus, more velocity. (The 30 Dasher is a 6mmBR improved with the neck expanded to .30 caliber and the shoulder blown forward). Speed comes at a price. That price is recoil, especially in a 10.5-pound rifle, such as Light Varmint and Sporter (same as LV but with at least a 6mm bore). Roy can handle the Dasher even in a 10.5-lb gun. The target above shows a sub-.300” group at 200 yards compared to a 6PPC group at the same distance. The larger cartridge and .308 bore CAN compete with a 6PPC – at least in the hands of a benchrest ace like Roy.

Roy Hunter 30 Dasher Benchrest Rifle wood carbon fiber stock

Roy’s 30 Dasher in 10.5-lb trim boasts a 1:17″-twist Pac-Nor barrel. Roy shoots Euber 116gr .30-Cal bullets over 38 grains of H4198. That load is good for nearly 3300 fps. This rifle, shown above, has a distinctive stained Butternut finish.

The stocks on Roy’s rifles are his own, made in his shop near Gettysburg, PA. Before Roy Hunter was a premier benchrest stockmaker he built museum-quality 18th Century-style furniture, following Chippendale patterns and the like. Now he just makes benchrest-style stocks (benchrest only — there’s no time to make hunting stocks). The fit and finish are as good as it gets. Roy’s stocks combine old world craftsmanship with high-tech construction. Roy uses Butternut wood, English Walnut, and other woods laminated with carbon fiber. His 10.5-lb rifle is Butternut, while his 13.5-lb rifle is Walnut — and they both shoot superbly! If you are interested in a Roy Hunter stock, the best way to reach Roy is by phone: 410-259-7944.

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July 25th, 2015

Match Report: 2015 IBS Group Nationals in Pennsylvania

IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Union County Weikert PA Pennsylvania 6PPC 30 Dasher Tony Boyer

IBS Group Nationals — July 13-18, 2015

Report by IBS President Jeff Stover
The ancient benchrest alchemists once predicted a perfect storm for small groups. The recipe is: one part near ideal shooting conditions, 90 of the best benchrest shooters in North America and mix with the shooters’ best barrels and bullets. Place the entire concoction at the shooting benches for seven minutes at time. The result in Heavy Varmint (13.5-lb rifles) at 100 yards, for example, was that the top 17 shooters averaged under .200 for their five targets! Yes, nearly the entire Top 20 in HV100 shot a “teen agg”. Ten or fifteen years ago, that would have been unthinkable. Sure, the winners or top two or three would be in that rarefied air, but not half of an entire relay of 40 shooters. Remarkable.

Bill Sutton of Hart Rifle Barrels
IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Union County Weikert PA Pennsylvania 6PPC 30 Dasher Tony Boyer

IBS Group Nationals Full Results (XLS Spreadsheet) | IBS Group Nationals Equipment List

IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Union County Weikert PA Pennsylvania 6PPC 30 Dasher Tony Boyer Another landmark of the 2015 IBS Nationals was that 17-year-old Wyatt Peinhardt of Quarryville, PA won the 200-yard stage of Heavy Bench. That meant he earned his first point toward the U. S. Benchrest Hall of Fame (HOF). You need ten to get in, but young Wyatt has plenty of time to get the other nine. He is no ‘flash in pan’. The young Mr. Peinhardt has been shooting since 2009 and now runs full speed with the big dogs of the sport. He was in the Top 20 in this year’s Super Shoot 2-gun results. Frequently he battles his dad, Jeff for supremacy at the bench. Strangely enough, here at Weikert in the Sporter Grand Aggregate (average of five targets at both 100 and 200 yards) Wyatt and his father tied right down to four decimal places: 0.2317!

Six Days of Competition with Four Classes
Some say that the Group Nationals are a marathon — six long days of competition at both 100 and 200 yards with four classes of rifles: Light Varmint (10.5 lb); Sporter (10.5 lb – 6mm minimum caliber); Heavy Varmint (13.5 lb) and Heavy Bench (known as ‘Unlimited’ in NBRSA-land). The first three are simply known as the “bag guns”. Most competitors use a 10.5-lb rifle in 6PPC and compete in all three classes. The Heavy Bench (HB) class requires 10-shot groups as opposed to the 5-shot ones for the bag guns. There is no prohibition to shooting your 10.5-pound rifle in HB, but a shooter is simply outclassed by the rail guns, especially for 10-shot groups.

IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Union County Weikert PA Pennsylvania 6PPC 30 Dasher Tony Boyer

As mentioned, the week’s weather was very good. After what seemed like weeks of on and off rain, the central Pennsylvania weather gods smiled on what is considered one of the most beautiful ranges in the USA. The shooters had nice sunshine and instead of the usual Weikert blow, they were treated to light zephyrs. It was a glorious week to be at a rifle match.

IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Union County Weikert PA Pennsylvania 6PPC 30 Dasher Tony Boyer

Course of Fire — First 100, then 200
The sequence of competition groups has 100-yard targets shot the first three days followed by three days at 200 yards. It is done this way to require only one change of wind flags. Nationals competition requires ‘full rotation’. That means that every time a shooter goes to the line for the next match target, he or she must move a requisite number of benches to the right. At the end of the day a shooter will shoot across the full width of the line. Some ranges offer unique properties that render some parts of the range harder or easier to shoot small groups. Bench rotation is important to even out those factors.

IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Union County Weikert PA Pennsylvania 6PPC 30 Dasher Tony Boyer

Monday morning saw the Heavy Bench (HB) shooters hauling the big rail guns to the line. Old pro Jack Neary led the way at 100 yards with .2186 Aggregate. The 200-yard stage for HB would not be held until Saturday morning. The winner there, of course, was Wyatt Peinhardt with his .2993 (MOA conversion for 200-yard scores). On Tuesday the bags guns came out for Light Varmint (LV) and Sporter (SP). Conditions allowed for quite a few very good groups. The top thirteen shooters in Sporter shot ‘teen aggs’ with Bart Sauter leading the way at a .1666. In Light Varmint, Wayne Campbell shot a tiny .1556. Both his warm-up and first record target were in the ‘zeroes’ (.096 and .088)!

Wednesday’s 100-yard Heavy Varmint match enjoyed what were probably the best conditions of the week. You needed to average under .200 for five targets to finish in the Top 20 or nearly so. Harley Baker won with a .1616. The talk in the loading area was Baker’s fourth record target — a tiny 0.050 bughole centered right in the center ring (usually called the ‘mothball’). It was probably the prettiest target most had ever seen. Better yet, the standing IBS HV 100 record is a 0.052 shot way back in 1980. Harley’s target is being submitted to the IBS Measuring Committee as a potential IBS record.

IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Union County Weikert PA Pennsylvania 6PPC 30 Dasher Tony Boyer

Wednesday afternoon saw the moving of flags for the 200-yard stage of the competition. The SP and LV 200-yard targets were Thursday’s course of fire. In LV, Andy Shifflett shot a .1966 Aggregate to pick up a HOF point. At 200 yards, Aggregates are logged in MOA units. Therefore, Andy’s .1966 Aggregate translates to an average 200-yard target measurement of slightly less than .400″. The afternoon was reserved for SP targets. Billy Stevens shot a .2060 to win the afternoon’s contest.

Powderpuff Event at the IBS Group Nationals
For decades IBS has hosted an exhibition shoot on the afternoon of a day when only one Aggregate is contested instead of two. It is called the Powderpuff and is intended to allow family members and others that do not shoot competitively to give benchrest shooting a try. Each shooter is assisted by a coach who instructs the shooter. World-class shooters such as Gene Bukys and Lester Bruno give their time and talents to assist novice shooters. There is no time limit to rattle the inexperienced shooters.

2015 Powderpuff Winners Jaydin Johnson (left) and Pam Campbell (right)
IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Union County Weikert PA Pennsylvania 6PPC 30 Dasher Tony Boyer

IBS benchrest Powderpuff Youth match Weikert PA Group Nationals

Barbara Hottenstein continued as the Powderpuff chair and assembled a large array of awards and prizes. The competition is financially supported by the IBS President’s Fund. This year we had 12 youth and adult competitors. Pam Campbell won the adult category while Jaydin Johnson (shown above with coach Nancy Scarbrough) won the youth division.

On Friday, a single Aggregate of five record targets were shot-for Heavy Varmint (HV) at 200 yards. Harley Baker had his mojo working with a .1896 Aggregate. That performance, coupled with Harley’s .1616 at 100 yards meant that his average in the HV class was a .1756 Grand Aggregate. That is small. Really small.

On Friday afternoon, many of the awards for bag guns were given out. Saturday was reserved for HB 200. Since some of the bag gun shooters do not shoot a rail gun, a number of competitors left Friday afternoon. The rail guns came out to contest 200 yards on the last day of the Nationals. The winner was Wyatt Peindardt. His .2993 was the only Aggregate under .300. Wayne Campbell was second with a .3028. Winning the HB Grand Aggregate was two-time Super Shoot winner, Larry Costa.

IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Union County Weikert PA Pennsylvania 6PPC 30 Dasher Tony Boyer

IBS recognizes Aggregate performances as follows: Grand (100 + 200) Aggregates in each of four classes; Two-Gun (all HV and LV targets in 100 + 200); Three-gun (HV, LV, SP in 100 + 200) and 4-gun (HV, LV, SP and HB in 100 + 200). In the multi-guns, Harley Baker won the Two-Gun. Gene Bukys added more HOF points by winning the Three-Gun. In the Four-Gun, Virginia’s Wayne Campbell who took the overall four-class Agg with an excellent .2326.

CLICK HERE for Full 2015 Group Nationals Results on IBS Website.

Praise for the Range Crew and Sponsors
The IBS Group Nationals requires a ton of work to run smoothly. The Weikert range’s sparkplugs are Mark Trutt and Dale Boop. This shoot does not happen without those two. This year’s registration and general admin fell to Nancy Scarbrough, who ran a flawless operation. She was assisted by Will Baylor in the scoring and by Stacy Hynes. Steve Dodge oversaw the entire target crew while Larry Hertzog alternated with Mark Trutt as Range Officer.

The benchrest cottage industry should be commended for giving back to the shooters. This year’s sponsors included: BAT actions, Black Hills Shooters Supply, Boops Sporting Goods, Bruno Shooters Supply, Hart Rifle Barrels, Jewel Triggers, JDS Bullets, K&M Precision Shooting, Krieger Rifle Barrels, L. E. Wilson, Pacific Tool & Gauge, and Shilen Rifle Barrels.

Parting Shot — Some Competitors tried to keep up with work while reloading …
IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Union County Weikert PA Pennsylvania 6PPC 30 Dasher Tony Boyer

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August 25th, 2014

Measure Groups Precisely with Neil Jones Tool

If you have a digital camera or scanner, you can measure your shot groups easily with the FREE On-Target software (read our On-Target Software Review). However, not many people want to lug a laptop to the range just to measure their groups. Most folks measure their groups at the range with a small ruler, or a set of calipers. That works pretty well, but there is a much more precise method.

Neil Jones Target Measure Tool

Neil Jones Target Measure Tool
Neil Jones makes a specialized group-measuring tool that fits a special optical viewing lens and shot-size template to your precision calipers. There are two main parts to the tool. The first part, attached to the fixed caliper jaw, is a block holding a spring-loaded plunger with a sharp point (used to anchor the tool). The second part is clamped to the sliding jaw assembly. This viewing unit has a magnifying lens plus a plexiglass plate with scribed centerline and circular reticles for various calibers (.224, 6mm, 30 cal). This device works with both conventional and digital calipers. You’ll find the Jones Target Measure Tool used by the official target measurers at many big benchrest matches. Jones claims that his tool “will speed up the measuring process and be more accurate than other methods.” The Neil Jones Target Measure Tool costs $80.00, which includes magnifier, but not calipers. It comes in two versions, one for dial calipers, the other for digital calipers. Neil Jones also sells his tool complete with dial calipers for $120.00, or with digital calipers for $150.00. It is probably cheaper to source your own calipers.

To order the Jones Tool, visit Neiljones.com, email njones@mdvl.net, or phone (814) 763-2769.

CLICK HERE for Detailed Review of Neil Jones Target Measure Tool.

Permalink Competition, Gear Review 3 Comments »
January 30th, 2013

OnTarget Software Measures Group Sizes from Scan or Photo

Jeffrey Block has created a great new FREE software program, OnTarget, that measures shot groups quickly and precisely. All you need is a photo or scan of your target. The program allows you to set your target distance, and provides caliber-specific tools to precisely mark the center of each shot. Once you’ve marked each bullet hole, Jeff’s OnTarget program automatically calculates group center, maximum group spread (CTC), average distance to center, group width and height, and group offset from point of aim. The program will even measure multiple groups on the same target.

CLICK HERE to Download OnTarget Group-Measuring Software (v1.10 FREE; v2.10 $11.99)

After just a few minutes spent learning the program’s tool buttons, we were able to plot shot groups on a variety of targets with ease. Once you select the target distance and bullet diameter, figuring group size is a simple matter of centering a circle tool over each bullet hole. Then the program “connects the dots” and provides all the info you could want automatically.

The program worked with bullet holes as small as 17 caliber and as large as 50 caliber. It is very precise, but remember that if your target photo was taken at an angle, distorted perspective can cause slight errors in measurement. Therefore, for the ultimate precision, you want to start with a flat scan of the target.

OnTarget Compared to Measuring Manually
We found OnTarget to be especially useful for groups with widely dispersed bullet holes, or very small bullet holes, such as 17 caliber holes. We’ve found that it’s difficult to measure 17-cal group sizes with a standard caliper, because the tool itself obscures the tiny holes. With OnTarget, the program can zoom up your target view, making it much easier to plot the center of each shot. And with a widely dispersed group of shots, the program automatically finds the two most distant shots. You can’t mistakenly pick the wrong pair of shots to measure.

Flash Tutorial Shows How It Works
Jeff created an excellent animated Animated Tutorial demonstrating OnTarget’s functions. It shows how to import a target image or scan, how to set target distance and scale, how to set bullet size and circle each bullet hole, and how to save the marked and measured target. VIEW OnTarget TUTORIAL

MEASURING REAL TARGETS — Actual Examples

Here are examples we created with OnTarget. The first photo shows a 17 Mach 2 target. These tiny 17-cal holes are notoriously hard to measure. With OnTarget, it’s a snap. You just load the target image into the program, zoom in with the controls, and then click on the center of the holes. The program automatically calculates group size, displaying measurements in both inches and minutes of angle (MOA)

Original Target (with ruler for scale)

Target Captured and Displayed in Program

Detail of Group, Enlarged by Program

10-shot Groups? — No Problem
Here’s another target, showing 6mm bullet holes at 600 yards. The first image shows the target image loaded into the program with the ten holes circled in red.

Target Displayed in Program

For this target we have used the Aiming Point option. The Aim Point was set at the center of the “X” and the program calculates average distance from the Aim Point. Very cool.

Detail of 10-Shot Group, Enlarged by Program

No Scanner Needed
The OnTarget program grabs target scans directly from a flatbed scanner using Microsoft’s Windows Image Acquisition system. But don’t worry if you don’t have a scanner. You can just take a digital photo of your target and OnTarget will import it quickly and easily. To set target scale, a simple tool allows you to mark a known length on the target (such as the diameter of the “X” Ring), and the program will then size the target accordingly. Is OnTarget precise and accurate? Here’s what Forum Member Steve W. says: “I used the extreme spread measurement of a group on one of my 600-yard match targets… as it was officially scored at the match. By clicking the +—+ icon, then clicked the cursor in the centers of the two extreme spread holes, I then entered that value in the reference window. After that it was simple because the bullet placement cursor’s circle was the same size as the black outline of the actual bullet holes on the picture of the target. OnTarget’s measurement came up within .006″ of the official 2.772 inch measurement of the group. That’s pretty darned close; well inside the human judgment of aligning the tips of a micrometer on the bullet holes.”

Bottom Line — Great Program — Download It Today
Jeffrey Block has done a great service for shooters by creating the FREE OnTarget program. It is easy to learn, it functions great, and it can save you time and effort measuring targets. It also lets you easily archive and compare multiple targets produced during load development or rifle testing. You can record ammo type, date, location, weather etc. in note fields accessed by “Group Info” and “Target Info” tabs.

Keep in mind that OnTarget was NOT created to replace existing methods for scoring competition targets. But for all other target measuring purposes it does a great job. Visit Jeff’s website, OnTargetShooting.com, view the tutorial, and check out OnTarget for yourselves.

To learn more about OnTarget, see more measuring samples, and read advanced Power-User Tips, visit our full OnTarget Product Review.

Permalink Competition, Reloading, Tech Tip 8 Comments »
December 28th, 2012

Gene Bukys Sets New Sporter 100/200 NBRSA Grand Agg Record

Gene Bukys NBRSA Record ArizonaBenchrest shooter Gene Bukys has smashed the existing Sporter Class 100+200 yard Grand Aggregate record, lowering the NBRSA record from 0.1886 to 0.1777. That’s a big deal in the short-range benchrest game. This record was shot in October, 2012 at the Arizona Nationals.

On Benchrest Central, NBRSA SW Regional Director Tom Libby reported:

“Yes it’s said that ‘Every Thing is Bigger in Texas’. Well in this case ‘Smaller is Better’ and Gene has done it with his new World Record for five 5-shot groups at both 100 and 200 yards in the Sporter Class Grand Aggregate.

The Old Record: .1886
The New Record: .1777

[That includes five targets at EACH distance, ten targets total.]

Great Job Eugene G. Bukys!

It is my understanding that Gene has bought a new special cowboy hat to start putting his awards on it but don’t get to close to him as the brim will hit you in the head.

Bukys and Barrel Tuners
Commenting on Buky’s record-setting performance, Boyd Allen writes: “Gene has a fine record as a shooter, and his rifles have tuners (at least the bag guns do, I’m not sure about the rail.) In contrast to other users of tuners, I’m told that Gene tunes his to the middle of a node, locks it down, and does not move it again, preferring to tune with normal means. I think that the effectiveness of this approach is pretty evident — the proof is now in the record books! Gene would tell you that he has never seen a barrel’s accuracy increased by the addition of a tuner, but that, with a tuner, accuracy nodes are wider. I would add that, while Gene’s tuner is an important component, we must acknowledge Gene’s outstanding shooting skills — this man can win with or without a tuner.”

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