What is D.O.P.E?
Data On Previous Engagements also known as “D.O.P.E. is a collection of ballistic data that is useful when shooting targets at various distances. In tactical and PRS style matches, this information proves to be invaluable. It provides a quick reference chart in which to dial in elevation and windage. It removes the need for long-winded mathematical calculations that would rob valuable stage time. Simply range the target (in our case, distance is already provided), dial adjustment into your scope, squeeze the trigger and…………..Impact!
Ballpark Dope or Precision Dope
Depending on what resources you have at hand, you can create a basic D.O.P.E card or if you have a few tools on hand, you can really “accurize” your data.
Down & Dirty D.O.P.E
If you do some basic google searching, you should be able to find your ammo manufacturer’s velocity, ballistic co-efficient, weight (in grains), caliber and zero distance. With that basic information you can then use a ballistic phone app such as Strelok (Android or iPhone) or website like JDM Ballistics. The results provided by the ballistic app or website will then provide a simplified “range card”. This range card then tells you various distances and the amount of “come-up” in MOA, Mil, or “clicks”.
This information should put you in the “ball park” to get you close to your targets. Just be aware, that every rifle setup is different and you may need to make adjustments to “true” your data.
If you wish to get precise data, then you will need to have two extra things. One is a chronograph to get your true velocity, the second is range time.
By shooting your desired ammo over the chronograph you will discover the average velocity and you will also learn the true consistency of your ammo choice (standard deviation). While standard deviation is not relevant for creating range cards, it does affect hit probability and ammo performance.
Range time is important to “true-up” your data. Even with your “more accurate” range card based on velocity, inconsistencies in scope tracking and other miniscule variables can cause variation in the data on the card and the actual point of impact. In order to account for this, some apps allow you to true up the data input based of the difference. This usually involves shooting two or more distances and finding a percentage of correction. this percentage in then put into the app.
By grinding and going through the motions to accurize your data, you are then greatly increasing your hit probability.
Real World D.O.P.E
Another way to get your D.O.P.E is the tried and true “just shoot” method. If you are so fortunate to have access to a range or private land where you can setup targets all the way out to your desired distance, you will end up with very accurate data. You can set targets out at 25m or 50m increments and record the amount of drop the bullet experiences along its path. By measuring the distance between the point of impact and the point of aim at each, that should then give you enough information to then calculate your Mil or MOA “come ups”.
You can also save yourself some back and forth trips by simply dialing your elevation and “walking” the point of impact up to your original point of aim. Once the point of aim and point of impact match up, record how much you had to dial in.
Another Variable: Wind
One thing to note that we did not discuss in great detail is adjusting for the wind. There are two camps that have formed regarding this subject. Some shooters prefer to dial their turrets for the wind conditions. Other prefer hold-overs. Dialing allows for more consistent shots, but depending on the wind conditions may not be quick enough. Hold-overs, while not as consistent are much faster and can allow shooters to compensate for quick wind gusts or changing directions.
Many books have been written on the subject on wind reading alone. Milcun training center has released a book on that exact subject. Their book is titled the “Wind Book For Rifle Shooters”.
Now that you have all your data (either ballpark or precise) its time to do something with it to make it useful and easily accessible. Speed is of the essence when shooting timed stages. Here are a few things you can do to make it easy.
A “wrist coach” is a simple wrist mounted puch with a clear window where you can see the printed range card. Print out your range data, place it in the wrist coach and your good to go. During your stage, simply get into position and take a quick peek at your wrist as your transitioning targets. I personally use a cheap “iPhone wrist holder” from amazon.ca as my “wrist coach”. They are very cost effective.
This method makes it easily to access your data without moving or even taking your eyes off the target. Print out your data on a rigid piece of paper. You can solidify and protect your data cards by adding a layer of clear tape. Wrap a “Gear-Tie” around your scope mounts and get two bulldog clips. mount your range card like in the photo and voila…………you’re done,
The main advantage to this method it you can simply open both eyes when transitioning targets and you can see your next “come-up” and dial it in.
With your newly minted D.O.P.E. cards you will now be able to have quick access to your rifle’s ballistics. These will make your target transitions smoother, faster and more precise.
Just remember that these apps and calculators are only as accurate as the information you input into them. The old adage “Garbage in, Garbage out” comes to mind.
Some great ballistic apps to explore:
- Applied Ballistics
- Nikon Spot On
- Bushnell Ballistics