Are You Doping For Accuracy!

Doping The Wind‘ to some is a dark art; a thing of bleached chicken bones and voodoo.  To those who have studied the wind over their many years while shooting on the prairies, in the mountains and on good old fashioned rifle ranges then it aint the boogie man that it’s made out to be.

The intricacies of ‘Doping The Wind‘ stretch beyond the scope ‘pun intended‘ of this article but I hope to give some insight into where the term came from and how to begin developing your skill of ‘Wind Doping’.

Awaken the dynamic shooter inside you, no matter if you are involved in competitive Bench-Rest, Silhouette or Hunting.  Having the ability to read and predict both the speed and direction of a wind is a valuable item to pull from the ‘doping bag’ when needed.  It may make the difference between a record 5 shot group, a tumbling Ram at 500Meters or that prized stag on the mountain ledge.

Who Coined The Phrase!

I asked myself the questions of where did the term ‘Doping The Wind’ come from, when was it first used and is ‘Kentucky Windage’ just another name?  So I wrote to the National Firearms Museum, Virginia, USA and I received the following response.

Doug Wicklund, National Firearms Museum (2011) e-mail to Matthew Canning, 25 January.

Thank you for your inquiry to the National Firearms Museum.

Doping the wind is an old shooter’s term. The carrying case any older competitive shooter would take to the range was called a dope bag and would be filled with all the necessary items for the firing line. Knowing which way a wind was blowing (and how fast) was an esoteric skill that the old time shooters seemed to be able to pull out of their dope bag when needed.

Old Sea Girt and Camp Perry range stories will sometimes refer to individuals that religiously noted the amount of windage under certain conditions, jotting this information down in a book kept in their dope bags.

We found mention of the term “dope bag” also in use with shooters dating back to before the American Civil War, so this is definitely something that has been around for a while.

Kentucky windage was a term that came out of older flintlock and percussion rifle competitions, where shooters with fixed rifle sights had to allow a certain hold-off to one side or the other to hit a target under certain conditions.  Many of these competitions with these rifles were held in mountainous regions of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and the Carolinas, but the Kentucky shooters had the best PR agency, I guess.

How Can I Begin To Study The Wind!

Essential tips that I have picked up from my own experience and that of fellow shooters to help develop skills in Wind Doping are listed below.  This list is by no means exhaustive so feel free to comment on additional tips and skills as it would benefit the author and everyone else reading this article.

Wind Flags & Electronic Devices:

Wind Flags come in all shapes, sizes and different weights for light to high winds located at different distances.  Flags can be home made or bought from a manufacturer.  Electronic wind meters or downloadable smart phone applications can give good feedback on wind speed and direction but only at the point where you take the sample.


An experienced second pair off eyes with a spotting scope can give good feedback on distances that stretch beyond 100M.

Wind Charts:

These can either be taken from a computer ballistics program or self made depending on the experience and ability of the chart creator.

Nature Watching:

Watch what direction the grass, dust, trees or sand blows or bends within your shooting distance.

Other Shooters:

Watch other shooters and how they react and adjust to wind conditions especially at the Bench-Rest events.

Words of Wisdom

I have read shooting publications on-line and from the bookshelf. Rather than regurgitate that information in this article, I will list some on-line resources that I found of interest regarding this topic and ‘mirage‘.  Mirage is also something shooters from a not so hot area tend to forget about but it’s always there waiting to tell its tale.

Wind Flags In Use


Shooting Illustrated –

Doping the Wind, Part II By Steve Adelmann

Precision Marksmanship –

Doping the Wind Isn’t that Hard -By Dave Morelli

Shooting in the Wind

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