Home > Articles > Creating And Maintaining Dope
We found 0 results matching your criteria.

Creating And Maintaining Dope

Recording DOPE, or data on previous engagement is paramount to improving our skills as shooters. Personally, collecting my DOPE has been about more than recording distances, bullet drops, and scope adjustments needed. My DOPE book has evolved to become my shooting diary and training log. Without a way to record and review this information I’ve collected on my previous trips to the range, I’ve found I tend to fall into a rut of shooting the same drills I’m comfortable and proficient with already without much improvement in my weaker shooting areas. Using a dope book or log has become such an essential part of my training regimen that I have felt personally it is almost a waste of barrel life and time if I go out shooting and don’t at least come away with some notes to review later. Many newer shooters can feel overwhelmed getting a DOPE book together because they simply don’t know where to start and what information they may need that is relevant to their shooting, however but just getting a book started with basic information is a great start and with consistent record keeping will you will also be able to find and keep the information that YOU need.

A dope book does not need to be a $50 dollar dedicated “shooters” notebook you find online or tactical supply store. I’ve found that most of the information that I keep doesn’t actually fit these templated books and instead have found just a regular notebook is easier for me. My current favorite dope book has been a simple carpenter’s notebook that I found at my local home improvement store for around $3. It’s a 3” x 5” spiral bound notebook with weather proof paper which keeps my notes legible just in case they happen to get wet and the paper is durable enough to resist tearing until desired and I can still write on it with pen or pencil. Its small size is handy enough that I can fit it just about anywhere in my range bag where it’s easily accessible. I also like the size of it also because I can also write down scope adjustments, draw targets, or whatever information I may need for a stage in a match, tear the page out and it will fit in my arm band I use when I’m shooting matches for a quick reference which is extremely useful when on the shot clock. I also usually keep a rubber band around it to keep it from blowing around in the wind and to keep a few pencils or pens tucked away with it so I can quickly jot notes down whenever I need to. I’ve found keeping a few carpenter’s pencils bound with it very useful as well since I’ve found they are the most reliable and durable writing method. To me, it doesn’t really matter how you record your information, the important thing is that you are able to keep it handy and consistently use it to actually record and review your information.

I usually keep a separate book for each one of my guns to help keep my information organized and from getting mixed up. At my most basic level, the information I keep in my dope book are on previous target distances, scope adjustments, notes on the wind and weather, and shooting positions. I’ve found that despite having a ballistic app on my phone, I still refer to my dope book for confirmation on shooting at distance and scope adjustments. It is very easy for information to be formatted incorrectly, or for me to bungle an information input in a phone app especially in between stages in a match which can completely put me off target. I personally really like having the real world reference point to compare to especially if I find myself shooting at an unconfirmed distance in a match. Keeping good notes on the weather and natural terrain have also helped me a lot with shooting in the wind. I’ve been able to draw targets and the surrounding terrain and draw in the wind direction which really helps me visualize influence from the wind. I also have written down my initial wind calls and corrected wind calls if necessary and can compare. I have also used my dope book to record my hits and misses and what I may be doing right or wrong. I also keep notes on how I build my shooting positions on what works and what doesn’t. I have also found that my dope book is the perfect place to keep gun specific information such as round count for the barrel and a cleaning log for monitoring when I may need routine maintenance.

Overall, I have found a dope book to be such a handy and integral to my shooting regimen it is hard for me to get out to the range without it. Getting in the habit of using it every time was probably the hardest part since it was another piece of gear to keep track of and I had no idea of what information was important. Now that I’ve gotten used to using one I’ve found that what information I keep has actually been an evolutionary process and what information I keep often changes. What information I keep may not work best for a 3-gun competitor, or pistol shooter, but the concept is very adaptable and I believe could be extremely helpful no matter your shooting discipline. This method of self-coaching I feel has also helped for concepts to stick in my brain, and to be very clear when I review my DOPE because it is coming from myself. I think the most important part is just to start as soon as possible and find what works best for you to improve and evolve and adapt and hone your skills as a shooter.

Lance Olsen