Author Topic: Beginner questions and issues  (Read 1715 times)

Offline 9245

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Beginner questions and issues
« on: March 16, 2021, 03:53:36 AM »
I’m thinking about starting cowboy action shooting but have a few beginner questions and issues and seem to be getting conflicting answers (and outright bad attitudes on some other forums) so I thought I’d ask here.

First I know different clubs and groups have different “styles,” and I’m not sure where to go, I have seen videos of some “coyboy action shooting” that is nothing more more than 5-10 rounds, with no reloading, on a more or less fixed firing line, I.E. not really “action” shooting at all and more like fast bullseye shooting with “cowboy” gear, about as exciting and interesting as watching paint dry, that’s not really the kind of match I’m interested in.  I’ve also seen actual action shooting style matches with real movement, firing from “cover” and reloading on the clock, run and gun style stuff, kind of like IDPA or 3 gun but with cowboy stuff, much more realistic and more interesting and fun, that’s more my style.  I also prize historical authenticity, not race guns and whoever spends the most wins.  I’m also turned off by the only loading 5 rule, not everyone has that mechanical deficiency so it’s a handicap against them (me).  I’m in Southeast Michigan, any clubs/groups like that around me?

Any tips for a budget conscious shooter?  Unfortunately the only “cowboy” guns I currently have is a pair of .44 caliber 1858 Remingtons (one by ASM and the other by Pietta), so I still need a rifle and shotgun, not to mention conversion cylinders and an outfit.  I have heard that borrowing gear is often not an issue at matches, but I would hate to drive half a day to a match (and my area is almost devoid of decent ranges, the nearest indoor range is an hour plus away as is the nearest, and ridiculously restrictive, public outdoor range, their are (expensive) private clubs that are closer but my, brief, interactions with them in the past make it clear to me that if you are not Elmer Fudd doing your yearly 1 round “sight in” on your $10 a round belted hyper magnum “deer” rifle, using the original one box of ammo you bought with the rifle 10 years ago, and don’t already know one of the blue bloods already in the club you aren’t getting in) so driving half the day is likely what I would have to do) only to find out that no one happens to be in a generous mood that day and then having to turn around and go home so I would really like my to have my own gear.  Unfortunately prices seem to have gone insane since the last time I considered this a few years ago, Italian replicas going for $1,500?  Really?  I don’t mind spending $5-600~ on a decent (ish) rifle, to go with my $300~ revolvers but over a grand, minimum?  Nope.  If I’m spending that much I’m building a fairly decent AR, not a replica antique from Italy made by the same people who made my $300 revolver.  I’d pay that much (and likely considerably more) for an ORIGINAL, but not a repro.  Even looking for used stuff on gun broker returns insanity, I understand the panic is on but who the hell panic buys a lever gun?  Any clue where I can find a decent entry level rifle and shotgun that would be match legal and historically accurate for something approaching a reasonable price?  I’m thinking of doing an 1888 character.

Any recommendations on firearms?  At the risk of being a heretic, I’ve never been a fan of the Single Action Army, it just seems to have already been obsolete in 1873 and definitely not what I would have chosen had I been around back then, it reloads not much better than a cap and ball with paper cartridges and gives up a round due to it’s only being able to safely load five rounds design flaw, whereas things like Schofields, Merwin Holberts, and Webleys, among others, all far superior, existed at the same time.  That (and hot swap cylinders) is why I went with the 1858 Remingtons instead (along with price and availability), however I am considering a cartridge conversion for convenience.  My question is what should I be looking at for the Rifle and Shotgun that would go with that?  Again, my target year is 1888.

On the topic of conversion cylinders, I very much like the idea of a gated conversion, the drop in cylinders are just clunky and to get any real benefit over cap and ball would require multiple cylinders which would get expensive, however I do NOT like the idea of giving up a shot and reducing what should be a six shot revolver to five.  Any conversion cylinder I get must be six shot and must retain the ability to load all six safely, if I must I’ll get the drop in, or rather drop ins, because I would need a couple of extras, but I would prefer a gated conversion but refuse to give up a round, any suggestions?

Is there a guide somewhere for historically accurate clothing?  I want to get the details correct.  I see companies like River Junction that sell reproductions for a reasonable price and that is likely what I will do for most of the outfit but the price (and selection is limited/non existent in my size) boots, jackets, and hats is astronomical compared to the rest (I can see the boots, leather work, but the felt hat?) so I will likely have to buy those used only I have no real guide to what is authentic and what is farb, any suggestions?  (FYI I wear a 14 wide shoe and a 7 1/2 hat, that is why I say finding my size is an issue, it seems like most manufacturers think that people with feet bigger than a 12 or 13 only live in the forests of Oregon and do not need shoes or boots, and most used hats I see seem to top out at a size 7 for some reason)

Yes I know, I could technically get by with modern cloths but I figure I might as well go all out, if I’m going to do a period based event I may as well create a full and correct impression.

Are SASS and NCOWS the only games in town?  From what I have read I really like NCOWS but the nearest “posse,” according to their website, is in Indiana and I’m in Southeast Michigan, that’s just too far for more than once or twice a year and SASS seems (again, just based on first impressions, which another forum has blown) to be not terribly interested in historical accuracy or realism and is more of a bullseye shoot and biased toward Single Action Armys with the 5 round limit, no (or uncommon) reloading, and penalty for unfired rounds in the cylinder even if all targets are hit (or that’s how the rules read to me), and I also don’t get limiting it to single action only when double actions existed in the period and were readily available.

Any other advice for a newbie?

Offline River City John

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Re: Beginner questions and issues
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2021, 06:11:09 AM »
Try this article from the NCOWS site on Creating The Outfit:

http://ncows.com/library/pdf/CreatingTheOutfit.pdf

All good questions you've raised. The five rounds loaded in a 6-cylinder firearm are standard safety in any Cowboy Shooting organization. Hammer always down on an empty chamber. And remember in some cases, such as smaller "pocket pistols", 5 chambers were the norm.

1888 there were still a lot of cap 'n' ball in use, and conversions, too. Uberti or Pietta '51, '60 or a Remington Army - all with a conversion cylinder, would be the most economical way to enter. There are some good deals on secondary market.
Conversion cylinders are a great way to be introduced to this sport. Cap 'n' ball revolvers and after-market conversion cylinders do not have to go through a FFL. We have NCOWS members who do not belong to any local club, and we also have members who form their own club if at least two other like-minded individuals share the same interest. Many clubs hold social events in lieu of shooting events, - go to museums, lectures or demonstrations, Western-themed movies if happening in their area.
Go slow and do what you're doing, ask a lot of questions and be patient. Welcome to the sport.

Coming out of pandemic times as the country is now has thrown a wrench into the cogs of everything, so it will be a renewal process by all. In effect we're all Newbies re-entering the sport this year. Great time to dip your toes into the water.
Let me mention that the NCOWS Convention and Congress Meeting is coming up March 19th, 20th and 21st in Nashville, IN. If you can make the trip it will be worth it.
It would be a nice resource to view a lot of firearms being offered, both original and repro.
Here is the Convention website:
http://www.ncowsconvention.com
It sounds like you lean towards the historical side of the hobby, so NCOWS would be a perfect fit. Plus you're right, NCOWS does allow double-action revolvers, which were well represented in the Old West. (One major difference between the two main organizations.) And NCOWS pioneered the two-gun category, using a single sidearm and a rifle. Very, very few armed men/women ran around with two sidearms, a rifle and a shotgun. And a gun-cart. Another economical choice to consider.
Many of our members hold dual membership in both organizations.
There are some independent clubs out there. Check with local gun ranges or stores and inquire of local resources.

As to your question, if a stage calls for hitting three targets only, there is usually a "dump" target to fire the remaining rounds in the gun. No stage would ever be written that would leave unfired rounds in a firearm to create a penalty situation for a shooter. In a case of a gun malfunction and it needs to be handed off to a RO, remaining unfired rounds would be counted as misses after the gun is cleared, - if there is not the option to re-shoot the stage.

RCJ
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"He who will not look backward with reverence, will not look forward with hope." - Edmund Burke
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Offline ira scott

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Re: Beginner questions and issues
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2021, 01:25:08 PM »
Five rounds loaded in a six shooter is not only standard practice in Cowboy Action Shooting, (SASS and NCOWS),  it is the standard way to SAFELY carry any revolver that does not have a transfer bar. A Schofield is just as likely to go BOOM when dropped on the hammer with a live round in the chamber under it as a SAA.  I think your comment about the Colt Single Action being obsolete in 1873 is amusing,  as the .45 Colt cartridge and SAA were introduced that year?  As far as appropriate rifles, a Uberti in either 1866 or 1873 version in .45 Colt can be had for far less than $1500 on the used market. That would work well with your .44 Cap and Ball conversions and fit your desired time frame.

It's a great sport if you would enjoy a taste of living history.  The best take-aways from my 15+ years of playing the game is the "interesting" people I have met and become friends with,  I don't give 2 sh#ts about the competition aspect.

Mike  AKA: Broken Nose Scotty
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Re: Beginner questions and issues
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2021, 04:29:36 PM »
First, welcome! I started a Mewe page especially for folks new to CAS and have some great folks helping guide the new Pards. Look especially for Branchwater Jack's Youtube pages, they are listed on the Mewe page too. https://mewe.com/join/newcowboyactionshooterscassass
Okay, I like running the Schofield's too, currently looking for a second one. You do NOT have to choose a costume category to get started, show up in jeans, a long sleeve shirt and some boots. There are several active CAS groups in Michigan/Northern Indiana, so you can certainly find one by you.
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Offline 9245

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Re: Beginner questions and issues
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2021, 09:55:58 AM »
Five rounds loaded in a six shooter is not only standard practice in Cowboy Action Shooting, (SASS and NCOWS),  it is the standard way to SAFELY carry any revolver that does not have a transfer bar. A Schofield is just as likely to go BOOM when dropped on the hammer with a live round in the chamber under it as a SAA.  I think your comment about the Colt Single Action being obsolete in 1873 is amusing,  as the .45 Colt cartridge and SAA were introduced that year?  As far as appropriate rifles, a Uberti in either 1866 or 1873 version in .45 Colt can be had for far less than $1500 on the used market. That would work well with your .44 Cap and Ball conversions and fit your desired time frame.

It's a great sport if you would enjoy a taste of living history.  The best take-aways from my 15+ years of playing the game is the "interesting" people I have met and become friends with,  I don't give 2 sh#ts about the competition aspect.

Mike  AKA: Broken Nose Scotty

Ah but some, like the 1858 Remingtons, had hammer notches to let the hammer sit safely between chambers, no safety reason not to carry them like that, it’s one of the things that drew me to the cartridge conversions.

I never said the Schofield didn’t have the same issue but it’s still the clearly superior design, the Schofield ejects all the empty cartridges simultaneously and there is no need to rotate the cylinder after loading each round and it even allows for the use of a speed loader, which did exist in the Old West era (though was very uncommon), but even without the speed loader the rest of the features make it the better choice, five rounds or not.  And it is not the only better choice either.  I think the Single Action Army would have been fantastic had it come out maybe 5 years or so earlier, but as it stands better designs were already on the market and commonly found.  It’s debatable how common hot swapping cylinders was for the 1858 but even without much practice I can do that in 8-10 seconds, how fast can you reload a Single Action Army?  Plus I have an extra round.  Even without the hot swapping cylinder though, the Single Action Army has no real advantage over a cap and ball revolver (using paper cartridges) or a cartridge conversion, at least in terms of reloads.  Now compare that to say a Schofield or Merwin Holbert, which is my point.

I love the living history aspect of this, I’ve always been a history nerd, and also being a shooter this seems to fit well :)

If you can find them for less than that I would love to see it, none are in the local stores so I’ve been forced to gunbroker and damned if used stuff doesn’t sell for as much or more than new there :(  I REALLY don’t want to have to use a Marlin but it might come to that :(

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Re: Beginner questions and issues
« Reply #5 on: Today at 05:03:58 AM »

Offline River City John

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Re: Beginner questions and issues
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2021, 11:56:38 AM »
Gunbroker should be renamed Gun Gouger, in my opinion.

Check actual gun shops, or smaller dealers. Also, that is the advantage of having local clubs as the membership are usually a good source for buying secondhand as they reduce the gun safe to free up cash.

Some reputable dealers I've had experience with:

https://philip-j-rezac-llc.business.site

http://www.3bshootingsupply.com

As I mentioned, gun shows in more modest venues, such as the NCOWS Convention and sales show event, are a good source.
Also, Pawn shops and the like can be a good source.

Marlin's were in the era, and many shooters swear by them. (I wouldn't just let your choice of sidearm be based solely on speed reloads.)

RCJ
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Offline bear tooth billy

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Re: Beginner questions and issues
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2021, 12:18:46 PM »
As mentioned previously, The NCOWS convention is this weekend
in Nashville In. At the show and sale there will be clothes and guns
both new and used for sale. Saturday there is a seminar on our 2
gun Originals class, if you like history that may be for you. I've
bought used clothes at a fraction of new price. It may be worth a
road trip for you. Hope to see you there.

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Born 110 years too late

Offline 9245

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Re: Beginner questions and issues
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2021, 02:29:12 PM »
As mentioned previously, The NCOWS convention is this weekend
in Nashville In. At the show and sale there will be clothes and guns
both new and used for sale. Saturday there is a seminar on our 2
gun Originals class, if you like history that may be for you. I've
bought used clothes at a fraction of new price. It may be worth a
road trip for you. Hope to see you there.

                    BTB

Unfortunately in addition to being a weekend trip I work Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so will be unable to attend :(

I don’t know, Marlins just don’t hold the same interest to me as the Winchesters do, I think they run a bit slower too, but maybe that’s perception.  My main issue though is that I’m envisioning an 1888 character (and even started researching and writing a back story that would make my age match his) and Marlins weren’t around until 1894 (I’m speaking of the model 1894 which seems to be the only one in production today and the only one available for a reasonable price.).

Offline bear tooth billy

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Re: Beginner questions and issues
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2021, 03:07:04 PM »
I shoot an original 73 Winchester made in 1882 and a 51 navy with a
38 long colt conversion that shoots heeled bullets.

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Born 110 years too late

Offline ira scott

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Re: Beginner questions and issues
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2021, 04:23:41 PM »
You may be able to swap the cylinder out in 10 seconds on a 58 Remington,  but then you still have to CAP it,  carrying "hand grenades" or loaded and capped cylinders is not allowed.  The Schofield is definitely faster to reload,  the ideal Working Cowboy "Gamer Gun" when reloads are required! My wife has used a Schofield for her entire CAS career, and is really accurate with it, I seem to shoot the SAAs better.   Much easier to reload one handed on horseback for sure, and we do that a lot. Ha Ha!

There were Marlin lever guns before 1894,  the first "pistol caliber" was the 1888 Model with about 5,000 produced, and the 1889 with about 55,000 produced.  They have what is called the "short throw lever action principle" FACTORY SHORTSTROKE 1880s style!  I paid way less than $1500 for an original 1889 in 38WCF.

You should probably miss work for the Convention!,   B.N.Scotty
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Re: Beginner questions and issues
« Reply #10 on: Today at 05:03:58 AM »

Offline River City John

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Re: Beginner questions and issues
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2021, 06:07:18 PM »
Start off with the capped cylinder and swap out to the conversion cylinder with fixed ammunition.
"I was born by the river in a little tent, and just like the river I've been running ever since." - Sam Cooke
"He who will not look backward with reverence, will not look forward with hope." - Edmund Burke
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Offline 9245

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Re: Beginner questions and issues
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2021, 06:44:17 PM »
Start off with the capped cylinder and swap out to the conversion cylinder with fixed ammunition.

That is actually precisely what I was thinking.  It would still be nice though to have the gated conversion because that way I could then reload from the belt if need be without having to do an awkward conversion cylinder reload, I may be over thinking it though.

Another possibility is to carry both revolvers, have one gated, one cap and ball, and a spare conversion cylinder which would basically give me six cylinders and if need be I could then transition back to the gated conversion then belt load.  Although I would think that method would almost certainly be historically incorrect, not to mention being unfriendly to 2 gun style matches.

Of course Ideally I would just get a Schofield and be done with it but the repros go for over a grand.  I also looked at period double actions but there are no repros available and the originals are far out of my budget, unless of course I get a .38 or .32 Hopkins and Allen or Bulldog knockoff or something, but I’d really like to stick with .44 or .45 if possible, not to mention I’m not sure how well pocket revolvers would fit an “outlaw” persona.  What I would love to have would be a Smith and Wesson first model .44 double action (“double action new model 3”) but so far the originals I have found have either been far too expensive (and likely gouged), or affordable but broken, but if I could carry anything from the period that would probably be it, that or a top break Webley.

I’m currently looking for historical sources regarding hot swapping cylinders.  I saw in an ancient forum post some poorly cited sources that apparently show Pony Express riders doing it, and if they did presumably others did too, so I ordered a copy of the books referenced in the incomplete citation to see if I can confirm that, unfortunately though the books are rare, about 90 years old, long out of print, and expensive so I had to request them from the county library, they found one copy in the entire state and are having it shipped in but as yet it has not arrived.

Offline bear tooth billy

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Re: Beginner questions and issues
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2021, 08:11:14 PM »
A lot of the 32's and 38's are pocket pistols and only hold 5 rounds
so you can't put the hammer down an empty chamber. So it wouldn't
be legal for a main match pistol.

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Offline ira scott

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Re: Beginner questions and issues
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2021, 09:07:14 PM »
Start off with the capped cylinder and swap out to the conversion cylinder with fixed ammunition.

RCJ,  I'm not totally sure carrying a loaded cylinder would within our rules?  In the case of an R&D cylinder you basically still have a hand grenade if you were unlucky enough that the the firing pin plate didn't just fall off when you fumbled the cylinder, and it landed on one of the firing pins. A Kirst cylinder you could at least have the firing pin on the empty chamber. IDK?

B.N. Scotty

PS   If you see this before you leave be careful tomorrow John,  looks like there could be some weather issues between here and Indiana!
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Offline River City John

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Re: Beginner questions and issues
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2021, 12:05:02 AM »
RCJ,  I'm not totally sure carrying a loaded cylinder would within our rules?  In the case of an R&D cylinder you basically still have a hand grenade if you were unlucky enough that the the firing pin plate didn't just fall off when you fumbled the cylinder, and it landed on one of the firing pins. A Kirst cylinder you could at least have the firing pin on the empty chamber. IDK?

B.N. Scotty

PS   If you see this before you leave be careful tomorrow John,  looks like there could be some weather issues between here and Indiana!

Broken Nose Scotty, thanks for the warning. I've been keeping a weather eye on things, and will be careful.
We talked about doing a half day of driving with a stopover around St. Louis, then driving in on Friday morning. But I think I'll be fresh enough to make the whole drive Thursday. Since the Convention doesn't close until noon, Sunday, we will pack up Yuma's merchandise and do half of the trip back with the stopover Sunday night and then roll into eastern Nebraska the following Monday early.
As to the swapping out, I've started off with the cap 'n' ball cylinder and changed to cartridge conversion cylinder. Nothing specific in the Rules. I've done it the other way around, too, and capped on the clock. I've even started with cartridge cylinder and poked the spent brass out on the clock and reloaded. The nice thing about the Remington is you can hook your little finger through the open frame and let it dangle while having the use of pretty much both hands free to effect the reload.
But with the advent of Working Cowboy or The Originals classes, it was a moot point. Most all stages written calling for five rounds shot out of the revolver.

As many of NCOWS rulings not covered by the Official Rules, it is left up to the local Posse discretion.
(A new shooter's inexperience would be taken into consideration, though.)
"I was born by the river in a little tent, and just like the river I've been running ever since." - Sam Cooke
"He who will not look backward with reverence, will not look forward with hope." - Edmund Burke
". . .freedom is not everything or the only thing, perhaps we will put that discovery behind us and comprehend, before it's too late, that without freedom all else is nothing."- G. Warren Nutter
NCOWS #L146
GAF #275

Offline Cliff Fendley

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Re: Beginner questions and issues
« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2021, 03:33:58 PM »
Ah but some, like the 1858 Remingtons, had hammer notches to let the hammer sit safely between chambers, no safety reason not to carry them like that, it’s one of the things that drew me to the cartridge conversions.

I never said the Schofield didn’t have the same issue but it’s still the clearly superior design, the Schofield ejects all the empty cartridges simultaneously and there is no need to rotate the cylinder after loading each round and it even allows for the use of a speed loader, which did exist in the Old West era (though was very uncommon), but even without the speed loader the rest of the features make it the better choice, five rounds or not.  And it is not the only better choice either.  I think the Single Action Army would have been fantastic had it come out maybe 5 years or so earlier, but as it stands better designs were already on the market and commonly found.  It’s debatable how common hot swapping cylinders was for the 1858 but even without much practice I can do that in 8-10 seconds, how fast can you reload a Single Action Army?  Plus I have an extra round.  Even without the hot swapping cylinder though, the Single Action Army has no real advantage over a cap and ball revolver (using paper cartridges) or a cartridge conversion, at least in terms of reloads.  Now compare that to say a Schofield or Merwin Holbert, which is my point.

I love the living history aspect of this, I’ve always been a history nerd, and also being a shooter this seems to fit well :)

If you can find them for less than that I would love to see it, none are in the local stores so I’ve been forced to gunbroker and damned if used stuff doesn’t sell for as much or more than new there :(  I REALLY don’t want to have to use a Marlin but it might come to that :(

If you like the history aspect then NCOWS is a little better fit overall but I'm sure it all depends on the local group and their interests. The loading five shots is going to be standard anywhere because the stages will be written for only five because many historic style arms are used that can only safely carry five. If more than five are required in a handgun it's going to be a reload regardless of what you are using.

Regarding history and swapping cylinders, find authentic proof it ever happened or even original 19th century guns that are fitted for two cylinders. I know this has been debated and don't recall seeing where anyone has ever been able to document that.
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