Language Lessons: DOPE
AKA: “Data On Previous Engagements”, sometimes “Data On Personal Equipment”
Category: Shooting Terminology
Application(s) of Use: Rifle and pistol shooting, especially scoped long range rifle shooting
1) A shorthand term for sight adjustments required to make hits on target in a particular scenario
2) Collected data logs of previous shooting situations used to more accurately determine adjustments for future situations with the same or similar conditions.
Why it Matters: Knowing how your rifle/ammo combination actually performs makes for a much higher first hit ratio.
Into the Weeds: There’s a popular maxim that goes, “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior”. While we don’t really know if that’s true for politics and people, it certainly is the case for shooting.
Generic ballistic charts are a good starting point for many people, especially for those with service rifles. However, not every rifle/ammo combination works very well with these one-size-fits-most charts. Usually they will be little more than broad guidelines for bullet drops for X rifle with Y ammunition at Z distance. Your scope or iron sights may have elevation adjustment markings for a given distance. These should be treated as gross proposals, not final adjustments.
Ballistic calculators that require a wider variety of information, such as JBM or Applied Ballistics, will give closer predictions.
Regardless of how specific a particular chart or calculator is, you need to go out and shoot with your individual setup to get the best information. The next step is truing. Many shooters physically attach DOPE cards to their rifles for easy access.
This video from Ryan Cleckner, former Army Ranger Sniper and author of The Long Range Shooting Handbook, provides some very good examples of DOPE.
In Summary, while ballistic charts and engines can give predictions, nothing is more accurate than actually shooting and properly recording the conditions and results, followed by truing.
Question for the Crowd: How do you store your DOPE?
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!
Emergency: Activate firefly, deploy green (or brown) star cluster, get your wank sock out of your ruck and stand by ’til we come get you.