What Is DOPE In Shooting?
Long range sports shooting has become one of the most popular trends for gun enthusiasts these days. Sniping has become so popular that it is driving the gun market with manufacturers designing newer and better rifles and scope models.
Whether you are interested in shooting for hunting, competitive sports, or recreational purposes, there’s always the possibility to stretch the limits of how far you can shoot with precision. There is a growing movement within the gun manufacturers to stretch the distance at which you can hit a target consistently and precisely. Successfully hitting a tricky shot on a small target half a mile away takes skill and practice, but it can be a very satisfying and rewarding experience.
Many gun enthusiasts use DOPE for long range shooting to improve their skills over a period of time.
What Is DOPE In Regards To Shooting?
DOPE stands for Data On Previous Engagements. It is a data collection technique where the shooters maintain a diary to record their shooting precision and shot distance based on a variety of factors such as height, temperature, wind velocity, and gun condition, etc. The data recording process helps shooters log, track, and access information that they need to make a successful shot.
In the process of developing ballistic data that is necessary for your rifle, there are a bunch of tools that can make your job much easier. The first is a rifle data book, where you keep track shot distance, accuracy and weather, etc.
Another useful tool is a weather meter. This tool will help you collect information with regards to wind speed, temperature, humidity, altitude density, and barometric pressure. If you don’t want to purchase an expensive model you should, at the very least, get a model that records wind speed and temperature.
A good chronograph is also useful for tracking the muzzle velocity of the rifle and ammunition. A precise chronograph is better because it will record data more accurately.
What Should You Record?
You should record as much information as possible. For a precision rifle shooter, data record on previous engagements is a process that never ends. The more information the shooter records, the better equipped they will be to make that all-important first-round hit at almost any distance.
Experienced shooters use some kind of data management device every time they take a shot. The importance of good data management can be seen under stressful situations where the shooter might become agitated and starts missing more shots. Precisely calculated data tracking helps them get back on track and improve aim accuracy under all types of stressful conditions.
There are plenty of ways to keep track of long range shooting data. You can use anything from the most basic data notebooks to expensive ballistic programs that run on mobile devices. The more advanced programs come with excellent analytical tools that will allow you to see what you did wrong and adapt the shot for greater accuracy.
It goes without saying that none of those data tracking tools mean anything if the data that you put together is inaccurate or missing relevant information.
Examples of DOPE Shooting Notes
You should start developing and truing the ballistic data you record by starting at the zero range and progress it further from there. You can start from a range of 50 – 100 yards to check the basic shot accuracy of your rifle. The environment will only have a negligible effect on the bullet at this distance.
Your bullets should hit the point of impact dead center in a 1-inch radius circle at this range before you begin to move out. This is called a solid zero. If you are not hitting the center, then your ballistic data is only going to get more skewed as we move farther out.
The zero range is also the place where you will want to find out your average muzzle velocity. This should be done for at least 5 – 10 shots for a refined number. Zero range shooting will enable you to build data on your rifle and calculate how shots align with your aim.
Here’s an example DOPE card.
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The next step is to increase the distance so that you can use the card when you head out to a known distance target range. Regardless of what ballistic calculation program you are using, there is going to be some common information that you will need.
For a start, you will need to know the type of bullet that you are shooting. You will need to record its caliber, weight, and ballistic coefficient (BC).
The BC measures the bullet’s ability to retain its speed and energy over a distance. The higher the BC, the less the bullet will drop as it flies through the air. A bullet with a lower BC will be affected by the wind more. The value of BC is measured as a value from 0.00 to 1.00, with 1.00 being the perfect bullet.
The data on the bullet and wind speed helps develop the trajectory for the bullet. Consider the chart below.
Lastly, you will also need to build your data for environmental conditions. You can do this with the help of a weather meter or go by the weather forecast. The meter is, of course, more reliable than the weather forecast. A density altitude calculator combined with barometric pressure and humidity calculator can be useful for taking as many environmental factors into consideration as possible.
Hit Targets 1000 Yards Away
Shooting is all science. While some people do have natural ability for it, it is not something that you cannot learn. The key to getting good at long-distance shooting is to practice and keep a detailed record of your shooting data.
It is a great feeling when you successfully hit your target that is 1000 yards away and hear the steel ring. You will feel nothing short of ecstatic when you know that you have achieved that level of accuracy with your shooting.
Achieving this goal is based on several key areas that you will need to master to get consistently good at long range. These include the following.
- Choose and set up the correct tools for achieving your goals. These include both the weapon system and the associated equipment.
- Practice and test the chosen setup at varying distances with the data system (DOPE) as you increase the shooting range distance.
- Work on your technique. Gain a better understanding of shooting fundamentals and practice them regularly.
- Use a variety of new skills and knowledge to modify and test the firing solution and solid zero, based on changing environmental factors.
- Use high grade and accurate ammunition of the right caliber, depending on the task at hand.
Is DOPE Only Useful For Long Range Shooting?
Long range shooting is defined as a variety of shooting disciplines where the shooter has to engage targets at a very long distance. The shooter has to take ballistics, trajectory, and wind conditions into consideration for making a successful shot.
Experts identify long range shooting as any type of shooting where the user has to make significant adjustments to their solid zero and take the gravity drop and wind deflection into consideration for hitting the mark.
With this in mind, short range is defined as anything that is less than 300 yards away. Long range is a distance of 300 – 1200 yards and extra long range is greater than a distance of 1 mile.
In light of these definitions, the major difference between short range target shooting and long range is the necessity to adjust the aim and account for bullet drop and environmental conditions. The gunner will have to calculate adjustments so that they can make a firing range adjustment solution.
For short range shooting or hunting, you can generally figure out the bullet drop without referring to DOPE cards. At 1000 yards, you will need to have a set of numbers that must be put into your scope to be accurate and precise. You can’t really guess where the bullet will hit, and the DOPE charts will compensate for you.
This is not to say that DOPE cannot be useful for short range shooting. When you make careful calculations before taking a shot, it will definitely improve your accuracy and precision. As you begin to reach higher distances for short range shooting, DOPE calculations will begin to have an impact. If your bullets have a lower BC or you are shooting in particularly windy conditions, then DOPE will make a significant difference to your shooting ability.
Shooting at great distances requires you to have the highest quality shooting fundamentals. You will need to have proper sight alignment, a good image of the target, a natural point of aim and operate from a stable platform. The DOPE calculations are necessary to ensure that your bullet gets the right trajectory and wind deflection to hit the target successfully.
Make sure you practice regularly and collect as much information as accurately as possible.