Presenting dope

in The Pew5 months ago

If you were to spend time with me and some of the people I hang with you'll hear the word dope spoken of, certainly if we happen to be long range shooting at the time. I understand what the word means various things but to me it is a shooting term.

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What is DOPE

DOPE, is an acronym for data on previous engagements.

To clarify, the word engagements doesn't mean hostile engagements, just rifle shots that have engaged a target. Essentially DOPE is the information gathered from previous shot, or series of shots, recorded for later use; A resource used for later shots.

Each time I shoot at long range I record a lot of data, especially if it's in training, practice or evaluation, but also, in a more basic way, competition and field work.

I record things like location, direction of shot, altitude, temperature, humidity, whether it's raining, sunny, overcast, snowing etc. On top of that I record the amount of elevation and windage input I use for each shot, the range and where it fell on the target. All of those things get entered into my logbook and are studied, evaluated and used later.

Why do I need it

DOPE is the information used to determine the amount of elevation and windage required to take a shot. The shooter will consider the range and weather conditions then refer to the DOPE which for me is either on my ballistics calculator in a table-format, or presented to me in some other way, which I will talk about in a bit. The DOPE is the amount of clicks, or MRAD input, I must make to the scope to effect the shot accurately, first time.

A good example would be data collected on cold-bore shots, that is, the first shot through a rifle when it is cold. It will land differently than the subsequent shots as the barrel heats up, and so it is critical information, DOPE, to gather for later shots. This is especially so in a sniper situation in the military or law enforcement, but also for hunters.

What does DOPE look like

Below is a sample DOPE table/chart from my ballistics software, a program called StrelokPro.

This one shows DOPE to 700m. It factors many different elements into the calculation which I have written about before, so won't go into here. This is what I would typically use when culling or hunting. All of this information is important to the shot.

Range the target, find the closet range on the chart, check the MRAD elevation and windage required, input to scope and away I go. It's quite quick; The whole process may only take 10-12 seconds, including ranging the target. This is suitable for shooting from a fixed position, a snipers hide, on a target that doesn't know I'm there, when I have ample time to shoot.

Other situations call for other methods though.

Presenting DOPE

Sometimes I have to present the DOPE in different ways; Ways that are either easier or faster to access on the run. That's when a purpose-made DOPE chart is required, and I make my own.

Below you can see two ways in which I present DOPE in competition, and sometimes in the field depending on conditions.

One arrow points to a small laminated card that I have written DOPE onto with a non-permanent marker; It is stuck, using Velcro, to the flip up scope cap, on my rifle.

The bottom arrow points to a full-DOPE-chart which sits within a device on my arm called an arm-board. There are other ways to do it, but this is how I do it.

Scope card - I use this method in stages with multiple targets over multiple ranges.

I use my ballistics calculator to work out a chart based on the weather conditions (as above int he black and white chart) at the time and simply transpose the ranges (assuming they are known, which is not always the case, but let's keep it simple here) to the card and write the appropriate DOPE next to it.

When affixed by Velcro as above, the card presents my DOPE (for that stage only) and all I need to do to check it is glance up from the scope eye-piece. It takes a split second. Of course, I try memorise the DOPE in the 4 minutes we get before the stage begins, but this is a check-measure as sometimes in the heat of a shooting stage the brain can forget things.

The below images shows one such card. It reads metres on the left and the MRAD elevation on the right, the adjustment I need to make to my scope, based on the black and white DOPE chart above. I may need to make between 5 and 20 shots on the stage, but will know the dial, the adjustment for each range, at a glance. This is good because the stages are all time-limited so getting the data quickly is important. Also, not having to think about it means I can focus on other things, of which there are plenty.

When that stage is over I wipe the card clean and it's ready for the next one. Keep in mind, the weather changes the elevation adjustment required, so I do this for each stage over a competition, not just once.

This is my preferred method in competition as it is fast, the data is up-to-the-minute correct and it is super fast to refer to.

Arm-board - Prepared ahead of time.

This method is also good, but is more indistinct as it is done ahead of time and not mere minutes before the shooting stage begins. This is what many military shooters use, or something similar. (You may have seen this in movies.) It is sometimes affixed to the stock of the rifle, but often as you see it here.

It is simply a DOPE chart, pre-made, worn on the arm for reference. In the image above of me shooting you can see where it sits and how visible it is to the eye. It is still fast to access, but not as fast as the card-system above plus it presents all the DOPE so can be harder to read which is why I prefer the other method for competition.

In the image below you'll note it goes up to 500 metres in range, and there are three coloured columns of green, yellow and red. I have also added a windage DOPE but I'll ignore that for the moment.

The colours refer to DOPE over different Density Altitude's (DA). That is a measurement gained from combining altitude, temperature and humidity in a complex calculation. The DA is in meters here and indicates in metres above sea-level, the conditions I am shooting at. The higher the DA the less impact the air-density has on the projectile as it flies, so the shot requires less elevation. It's all pretty simple.

I have hand-written this one on a blank pre-printed chart because I wanted to take environmental readings at the range (in Darwin, Australia) where this competition was shot at first, knowing they would be completely different to where I live. That night I went home to the hotel and created the chart.

A word on the windage...I knew, through experience, that the range I was shooting on only allowed for wind at full-value from the right (that is, 90 degrees to the shooting position) due to shooting mounds. So, I simply put the windage dial in at full-value, 5pmh, intending to adjust according to the wind on each shot, read manually by eye and feel. It worked well.

The chart also only goes to 500 metres. That's because the range was only 500m long which is unusual, a very small rifle range. Normally I'd have DOPE out to 1500m or so.

Having DOPE presented correctly is a game-changer when one is shooting in pressured situations where time is of the essence. It could be on the battlefield or in a competition, or even in a hunting scenario I suppose. Knowing what elevation to dial into the scope is critical to making the shot, and having the information readily accessible will mean faster shots which could make all the difference in the situations above.

The two methods I use are the most basic and foolproof I have found. They may not work for others, however when implemented correctly I have found them to be incredibly effective.

A little note on these charts. There is a lengthy and complicated process to obtain the DOPE. The ballistics calculator requires a lot of setting up and some very accurate date to be logged into each rifle/projectile profile before it spits out effective DOPE charts. It's not a simple matter of punching some buttons.

Anyway, that's my little piece on presenting DOPE...Which most of you never even read. Thanks for looking at the pictures though.


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I thought you been holding out mate and been using that DOPE stuff🤣

Nah man, it's not my style to do that shit.

Not mine either.

Wow. I've been a shooter all my life, but mine has always been more 'off the cuff' which can be a significant amount of data after 50 years of experience. I really like the method you use, takes a serious amount of 'what if' out of the equation.

Most of my competitive shooting has been done on the trap range. Loads, shot size, pressure are all 'previously' addressed. Weather considerations lead to picking the most likely round for the conditions. And all are 'hot iron', you warm the barrel before you shoot. 25 or 50 rounds per session. 4 to 10 sessions at a shoot.

Thanks for a really detailed look at DOPE. Even an old dog can learn...

No worries. It's not a new concept really. DOPE has been used for a long time, certainly by snipers anyway. I'm glad you got something from it.

I have never loved guns and the sound of guns scare me so much. It is like that because growing up we were faced with so many violence and burning of houses that I got so scared and refused to eat whenever I heard gun sounds. Because of that I hated guns so much and I am afraid of guns

Different people hate different things for different reasons I guess.

Interesting points about ranged shooting that I'll apply when playing call of duty but mildly dissapointed that we'll not be snorting the white horse 😄

What's call of duty?

Only one of the most popular first person shooter games in the world Dad 😄

You might as well be playing Nintendo Duck Hunt. You might have to Google that.

Valid. Never shot a gun before and all my information are from DOPE charts like yours and video games.

Video games never said anything about cold-bore shots though and I totally get your point. Is it something to do with expansion of the barrel due to heat from the bullet flying out or something else?

There's zero correlation between a video game and real shooting, as much as hard core gamers would like there to be.

Yes, the barrel heats up and changes the barrel harmonics and so the FOS downrange as well. It's a fairly complicated process, but that's the basics. The difference will usually result in a miss at long range and an ineffective shot at closer range.

I've done both, play video games, and shoot, and I can assure you that no matter how good a person may be at a video game it doesn't translate on a real gun in real life...For about a billion reasons. I used to play a lot of of Ghost Recon online back in the day, and have shot guns for almost 30 years...I prefer real life.

You're badass uncle G. Respect!
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Lol. I half expected you to come back with a Duck Hunt meme.

So much mathematics into this! I think the effort pays off in competitions, where you need to know a.s.a.p. what to do. I find this very similar with chess. Where the player takes a lot of time ahead of the game to prepare and in the moment resort to all kind of pre-learned stretegies and adjust accordingly. It is the hardest to see all the work behind those numbers written with a sharpie. But I gotta say... It's pretty dopee (pun intended dork giggles😂😂😂)

I've been shooting for almost 30 years and am still learning. So, yeah, it's complicated. So many concepts, mathematics, physics, chemistry, aeronautics, environment etc. It's not just pointing and shooting like in a video game.

A skill of many skills

Hello dear friend @galenkp Good afternoon.

This is a very attractive activity, the more I read about your shooting practice reports, the more I am passionate, getting to know all these things, a (something I never thought existed) makes me more interested in long distance shooting practices.

It is incredible how the first shot can vary with the following ones and how much it has to do with whether the weapon is cold.

I am passionate about knowing that the certainty of a shot can vary depending on the weather, height and wind currents.

It is admirable the knowledge that you possess and how you make your own boards very practical for their use.

Thank you very much for letting us know all these details

I wish you an excellent day

Thanks for your comment and interest in my posts; You always comment with relevance and I appreciate that.

So on the run and gun pistol range it is hand eye coordination. And on the long guns it is all calculations and data & Steady hand to trigger pull.?

This is a good question.

Shooting skills are always important, and will always come into play. It's much like driving. We all learn in a small car generally, as kids, and those skills are important. It gets more important as things progress to big rigs, or racing cars. Same skills, just honed,and with greater risk as the type of driving/vehicle changes.

So, the further the range the more those skills make a difference. A bad trigger-pull on a 25m range may not hurt so much. At 1000m and the shot could be metres off target.

The data is important to get the bullet to the target, all the other elements I've spoken of before. Without very good data and well-developed skills the shot can't happen.

Imagine a learner driver at 16 years old having a few lessons, getting a probationary license then dropping them into a B-double or triple road-train weighing 100 tonnes. Disaster.

A good question mate. I hope this response sort of helps. It's probably a post all of its own.

Good stuff. Thanks

And now I know what that acronym expands to XD (I suppose I could have tried harder to look it up but that can get interesting).

I'll probably forget later tonight

Jeez this shooting thing is complicated x_x

It is, but if I take first-time shooters I keep it simple. I do all the work, they get to have the fun. This is more advanced stuff. To get people hooked in I just bring the fun.

EDIT: Gives new meaning to that Dwarf DOPEy. He must have been a sniper.

The "dopiness" was just a ploy so no one would suspect that he was really the deadliest of the bunch XD

Lol. That's my strategy too.

You're going to have to work harder on your befuddled old guy look then, your eyes are too sharp ;D

Lol...You should see me when Faith asks me to do empty the dishwasher or do the laundry. That's when my best befuddled looks make an appearance.