Are you practicing all day to hit your target precisely but failing? What would be the issue? Start by checking the windage and elevation clicks. Your bullet travel path can be affected by wind and distance, affecting your hits.
When aiming at a target with your rifle, you need to compensate for two things; elevation and wind. Where your gun aims should match the target you’re hitting.
If you’re into long-range precision shooting, then you must learn how to dope scope. If you already have a scope for long-range shooting, then it’s time to learn about DOPE-ing a scope.
Let’s dive deep and learn more.
- What is a DOPE?
- Steps to DOPE a scope
- Why using DOPE is important
- Extra tips to DOPE a scope
- Final Verdict
What is a DOPE?
DOPE stands for “Data On Previous Engagements,” and it is information about the specific performance of a weapon and ammunition in a particular environment, such as wind and elevation.
In the context of scopes, DOPE would refer to the adjustments that need to be made to the scope’s reticle in order to account for these factors so that the shooter can accurately hit a target at a known distance.
In reality, people don’t really have to DOPE. The data you’re collecting for a specific scope with the same click values is the same for all scopes. A DOPE is a reference chart with all the information to make the right adjustment for windage and elevation.
Steps to DOPE a scope
The process of doping a scope, also known as zeroing a scope, involves adjusting the scope’s reticle (crosshairs or other aiming point) so that it is correctly aligned with the rifle’s barrel. Here is a general outline of the steps involved in doping a scope:
Step 1: Prepare a dope card
This step involves creating a card or chart that lists the relevant information needed to adjust the scope for different ranges and wind conditions.
This information typically includes the distance to the target, the wind speed, and the direction. You also need the trajectory of the bullet at that distance and wind conditions.
Most calculators require extra information like temperature and wind speed for added accuracy. All this information is crucial for precise dope card preparation.
Step 2: Familiarize yourself with your ammunition
Next, you need to understand the type of ammunition you’re using. This is important as certain dope cards will only be used with certain ammunition.
Take time and read your rifle specifications carefully. This will help you understand your load type and choose a matching dope card. If the ammunition and firearm are unmatched, the precision will be hugely affected.
Step 3: Setting up the Dope
Preparing your card involves understanding the designated area the firearm will cover. This is a great way for every shooter to understand their firing field.
The key areas in the firing field to understand are the maximum engagement line, dead space, the sectors of fire, ammunition of choice, and data about the weapon.
Step 4: Gather the necessary tools
Here, you need to ensure necessary materials needed for shooting and zeroing are available. Examples of must-have tools include:
Chronograph: This is a special kind of watch that helps track or record time. This is put directly over the muzzle to help get the velocity of your load. It’s a crucial tool that will help you prepare your dope. The watch helps determine the standard deviation of your average velocity.
Range time: Range time is the exact time the bullet travels to get to the target impact point. It’s crucial information you’ll need for precise shooting.
Step 5: Conduct a Step Fire
The first step towards learning how to dope is testing your firing. Make a test fire using the information and tools we’ve mentioned. You need all the information to be backed by data that has gone through some testing.
Make a test fire and note down the load velocity and the type of ammunition fired. The test needs to be as accurate as possible.
Make sure you make three to five test shots to enable accurate and reliable data.
Step 6: Get range time:
Range time is the actual travel distance of the load to the target. The exact time is usually affected by various external factors. Common external factors include wind speed and temperature.
Another common factor that affects range time is gravity. Gravity can make the bullet hit low than intended.
In your calculations, you need to get the average range time. This is why we recommend taking consecutive shots and calculating the average.
Range time is a crucial factor in calculating the precise ballistic data and ensuring precise shots.
Step 7: Using the ballistic data
The whole process of DOPING is to create a reference chart for quick adjustments when in the field. Ballistic data is not complicated, and every user can apply it.
If you can’t calculate your own ballistic data, there are programs online that can help you calculate. But you must enter the right ammunition type, firearm, conditions, and much more.
Depending on the scope you’re using, you can quickly measure clicks in MOA or MIL. Measurement can also be measured in centimeters or inches. Everything comes down to your scope setting and what best works for you.
The goal when using ballistic data is to measure the point of impact. But accurate and precise shots are only possible with accurate data input.
Step 8: Use manual measurements
Ballistic data is not always available when using rare firearms and loads. However, that does not mean you cannot calculate DOPE. In such situations, manual input is the only solution.
Measure the distance from the gun muzzle to the area of impact. You can also calculate the range time using a stopwatch. This data will enable you to come up with accurate MOA or MIL.
Apart from this information, you also need extra dial-in information that can affect your load velocity.
Wind and gravity are the two main factors that will affect your bullet trajectory. Make sure you dial elevation before making your shot. Make sure you know the distance between the aim and the impact point. This will enable you to adjust elevation correctly.
Use your dope card
With everything in place, you can now use your DOPE card. Make sure the card is within reach. Print the dope card and place it on transparent nylon paper. This will protect it from moisture and water.
The dope card must be placed where shooters can easily access it. You can also use dog bull clips to secure it.
Practice shooting your targets
Lastly, you can now practice shooting at your targets and using the dope card for adjustments. Make sure you note down the point of impact and how far the bullet hits from the point of impact.
Even when you miss the point of impact, the bullet should hit very close to the point. Aim and make shots for smaller targets with precision.
Most likely, you’ll miss the first points of impact. But don’t lose hope, as the main aim is to keep practicing until you master it.
Why using DOPE is important
This information is used to adjust the aim of the firearm to account for these factors and improve accuracy. The term “dope” is also used in other forms of competitive shooting, such as archery and airgun as well.
In a military context, determining the range and other factors to hit the target accurately is important in order to increase the chances of hitting the intended target and avoid wasting ammunition or hitting unintended targets. Similarly, in hunting, knowing the trajectory of the bullet can increase the chances of a clean and humane kill.
In competitive shooting, knowing and understanding the dope for a firearm can make the difference between hitting the target or missing it entirely. It is also a critical part of long-range shooting as the bullet will drop significantly over a long distance and need to adjust the aim accordingly.
Overall, the importance of “dope” in shooting is to increase accuracy and hit the intended target efficiently.
Extra tips to DOPE a scope
Here are a few tips for DOPE-ing a scope for precision shooting:
- Keep a detailed log of your shots, including the distance, wind speed and direction, temperature, elevation, and any other relevant information.
- Use a ballistic calculator to input your specific load data (bullet weight, velocity, etc.) and environmental factors to predict the trajectory of your bullet.
- Make sight adjustments using your log and ballistic calculator data rather than just adjusting for the bullet impact on the target.
- Practice, practice, practice. The more you shoot, the more data you’ll have to work with, and the more accurate your DOPE will become.
- Make sure your rifle and scope are zeroed and maintained properly.
- Use proper shooting techniques, including a steady position and proper breathing control.
- Use proper equipment like a range finder or wind meter to measure wind speed.
- And lastly, its always good to have a good Spotter to assist you and to get additional information about wind and distance, etc.
Knowing how to DOPE a scope is important for precision shooting. You need to collect previous ballistic data to create a dope card. Shooters can also use a ballistic calculator to identify the exact point of impact. For shooters with long-range precision shooting, then a dope card is needed for every rifle and scope.
Overall, data collection and recording are essential to doping a scope. Make sure you jot down each hit. How far did you miss from the point of impact? These data will help you make the right adjustments for your next shots.
Travis Mike is a firearm enthusiast and author passionate about all things guns. With 10 years of experience in the industry, Travis Mike has gained a wealth of knowledge on the subject. He is skilled in gunsmithing and tactical training. In addition to professional experience, Travis Mike is an avid hunter and shooter, regularly participating in local shooting ranges and hunting trips.