Language Lessons: DOPE

dope sniper acronym
July 28, 2016  
Categories: Learnin'

Language Lessons: DOPE

Term: 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?


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  1. Spanglebarger

    “Dope” was never an acronym until some idiot decided the term couldn’t survive without one.

    As far back as the turn of the 20th Century, race tracks sold “dope sheets” that were claimed to contain “insider information” on horses and jockeys. So “dope” in that sense became part of the popular lexicon. Arty and machinegun crews as far back as WWI, most of a century before anyone realized it was an acronym, referred to their targeting data as “dope.” In the Dead End Kids/Bowery Boys films of the 1930s and 40s, they (usually ‘Slip’ Mahoney) frequently would ask, “What’s the dope,” or “Give me the skinny,” meaning “Give me the EEI.”

    So don’t humor the nimrods who came up with this nonsense, else they’ll feel encouraged to look for more perfectly serviceable military terms to “acronymize.”

  2. Wilson

    I keep a notebook for long ranges, but generally I fire a few just to see what happens and make adjustments.

    I don’t have any fancy gadgets like a Kestral, just a baseline idea of how much the round drops at range, so I “Kentucky” the rest of it.

    Generally I’m not trying to shoot a hast age taker past a hostage at long range so it doesn’t really matter if the cold bore shot is smack in the center of the bull.


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