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D.O.P.E is a Backronym

•    information, especially from a reliable source
•    a preparation (such as an anabolic steroid, diuretic, or tranquilizer) given to a racehorse to help or hinder its performance.

“Dope”, the physical substance, came from an older Dutch word for soup. It came to mean the drug to give to a horse (and later drugs used by humans) or the glue used on fabric for airplane wings.

“Dope”/”Doping”, the verb, came to mean the act of drugging the horse (or more recently infusing molecules of another element into a wafer of silicon in creating semiconductors).

I read somewhere that in racehorses, the handler who drugged the horse could provide that reliable, secret, information. Picture a black and white Film Noir movie with a character who says something like “Hey Louie, what’s the dope on the race tomorrow”. That is how “dope” came to mean “secret, insider, information”.

It was in this context of “secret information” that I first heard and read high power shooters refer to sight setting on their rifles for a given distance or condition. “Put your wind dope on before you go to the line.” Back in the 80’s when I started shooting the word “dope” was used in that way by older guys as though it had long been part of their vocabulary and no one ever attempted to explain it. Edward Crossman uses “dope” numerous times in that way in his 1932 book “Military and Sporting Rifle Shootiing”. I suspect the word has been used since the earliest days of Camp Perry over 100 years ago, or even before.

I NEVER heard any shooter explain that the letters of “dope” – D. O. P. E. – were an acronym, until I started watching YouTube videos from PRS shooters… and it makes me cringe when I hear “previous engagements”! A stage in a high power rifle competition has never been referred to as an “engagement” and English speaking people don’t say “data on…” in such a context either, we would say “data from…”.

Shooters have been putting their “dope” on their sights probably for 100 years…. Never their “D.O.P.E.”

A “backronym” is a series of words that correspond to the letters of a common naturally occurring word, usually created as a joke… think: “My Ass Rides In Navy Equipment”, “Fornication Under Consent (of the) King”, or “Stack High In Transit”.

“D.O.P.E.” is a backronym!

Now give me a minute and a half right and send it!

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Last modified by: Bill Poole (01-Jan-24). (c)
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