From a Personal Need to a Competitor’s Solution

Written by Kenzie Fitzpatrick | Published in USPSA Magazine

When Brian Conley developed the famous recipe for Hunters HD Gold lenses, he never imagined where it would lead. Fast forward to today, Brian is on the road in a tricked-out Sprinter van with the Magical Mystery Tour, traveling to matches all over the country. Before diving into what the tour entails, let’s go back to the beginning.

Brian is a co-owner of Triple Forks Hunting, 280 acres of rolling hills, rustling streams, open food plots, and natural hardwoods. At TFH, you can fish in the lake, relax in the rustic cabin, shoot archery out back, plink at the pistol range, and hunt deer, turkey, or the infamous bobcat. It was here that Brian began the research and development for the well-known Hunters HD Gold lenses.

Just like most entrepreneurs, Brian identified a problem and wanted to create a solution. If you’ve ever hunted before, you know that early light and last light can be some of the best times of day to see the movement of animals. But those lighting conditions are some of the hardest to see in, and visibility is everything in making a clean shot. Yellow, amber, orange, copper, and brown tints all are helpful in low-light conditions, as they can make the environment appear brighter. While there were many lenses on the market then and still are today, none came even close to the quality that will once become Hunters HD Gold.

Brian’s wife, Sherry, is the owner of Optical Prescription Lab in Pelham, Alabama. Since 1977, this lab has produced the best lenses for optometrists and ophthalmologists around the United States. For years, the lab has produced polarized lenses, photochromic lenses, and of course, has mastered the art of digital prescription lenses. OPL has won many nationwide awards that set them apart in the optical industry. It was this lab where Hunters HD Gold was born.

Brian tinkered with the lens coating, color, and depth until finally landing on what we all know now to be the iconic gold lenses. The actual process started in 2015 when Brian set out to make his own personal lenses that would allow him to see animals at dawn and dusk during prime hunting season. Brian went through more than 70 different variations of color until discovering the right medical dye that checked every box and goal he had set out to achieve. Immediately, the gold lenses were tested out by game wardens in North Alabama to confirm they could bring in the right amount of light. They confirmed that the lenses were legal to hunt with, and they continue to use them to this day.

Plenty of entrepreneurs go into business thinking that their market is for one specific group of people, and are caught by surprise when they find out there’s a much larger market for them around the corner. The hunting community adopted Hunters HD Gold quickly as they already knew the value of yellow-tinted lenses, but what Brian wasn’t prepared for was the competitive shooting market.

In 2017, Brian experienced his first taste of the competitive shooting world. The World Rimfire Competition took place in North Alabama that year, which was close to home. It was Bryan Haaker from TANDEMKROSS who gave him a list of six events he had to attend. Fast forward to 2021, and Brian now attends over 40 shooting-related events each year.

The adoption rate of new products in a market can take years, sometimes even decades. While Hunters HD Gold didn’t immediately take off into the sensation it is now, it found a few loyal customers who believed in the product enough to keep Brian going.

Alabama is home to some well-known brands in the firearms industry, many not far from the Optical Prescription Lab. Rainbow Technology was one of the first partnerships of Hunters HD Gold and is also located in Pelham. For those unfamiliar with Rainbow Technology, this company owns and Steel Target Paint. For a long time and still today, Brian has supported his local gun shop, The Armory Guns and Ammo, in Pelham. They were one of the first authorized retailers of Hunters HD Gold glasses and have cerakoted just about every gun Brian has on the Magical Mystery Tour. In Bessemer, you can find the home of Steyr Arms USA. Hunters HD Gold and Steyr Arms was a natural connection as they make some of the best hunting rifles. Also located in Bessemer is Jays Hydrographics, who are the wizards behind the Sprinter van design. All of these connections have helped grow Hunters HD Gold into what it is today.

If you’ve never met Brian Conley or have only seen him in passing, you probably don’t know that he travels and supports just about every major shooting competition and every shooting discipline there is. In the early days, Brian would drive to matches and set up a table with Hunters HD Gold glasses for people to try out. Supporting and sponsoring the shooting sports however he could is what was, and still is, important to Brian.

Brian asked shooters what they were looking for in their protective eyewear and built the product around their needs. Many shooters he saw would switch out lenses or glasses as lighting conditions changed throughout the day. While some shooters wore contacts, many others would put on their prescription glasses when it was their turn to shoot a stage in order to see their sights and targets. All of this time spent at matches and on ranges is what led to the development of transition lenses, custom glasses, and adding prescriptions to the lenses so there would never be a need for more than one pair of shooting eyewear ever again.

As Brian traveled to state after state, people began seeing the difference between their shooting glasses compared to the superior quality of the game-changing gold lenses. From steel challenge to USPSA to 3-gun and IDPA, shooters of all disciplines began to change out their old eyewear for Hunters HD Gold. This one pair of glasses could replace the need for three interchangeable lenses and carrying around prescription glasses, without sacrificing the ANSI 2020 Z87 high impact ratings on the lenses themselves.

As Hunters HD Gold grew and Brian began attending more matches, he saw how often shooter’s guns would break or malfunction. Yet again, Brian found a solution to this problem. Brian started bringing his personal guns, magazines, and even belt setups for shooters to borrow so they could finish a match. Partnering with brands such as JP Enterprises, Vortex Optics, and Springer Precision, Brian is now able to supply shooters with different caliber guns set up for every division there is to complete a match without being bumped to Open or having to change divisions.

The 2020 Rock and Roll Roadshow started out at SHOT Show where Hunters HD Gold released the custom shop. The custom shop allowed shooters to send in any pair of frames that had two separate lenses to be swapped out for Hunters HD Gold lenses. The custom shop also gave shooters the option to add their prescription into the lenses from single vision to progressive lenses. With so many styles, favorite colors, different head sizes, and different needs, the custom shop really opened more doors for shooters wanting to wear Hunters HD Gold without sacrificing the frames they love and are comfortable in.

As Brian put more and more miles on his truck in 2020, he realized there had to be a more comfortable way to travel 35 to 45 weekends out of the year. Enter the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. As Brian began designing and building out the future of travel for Hunters HD Gold, he was also in the works of introducing a new product line.

At the beginning of 2021, the all-new Hunters HD Ruby lenses were released to the public. Once again, these lenses weren’t born overnight. Prototyping began almost a year and a half in advance with testing done by trap and skeet shooters, competitive shooters using red fiber optics and red dots, and by shooters with red/green color blindness. The Ruby tint was engineered with shotgunners in mind. If you’ve never shot clays before, one of the biggest struggles is shooting into a bright sky without squinting and trying to see the aerial clay at the same time. Shotgunners have long since used rose-tinted lenses, but until Hunters HD Ruby was made, none were all-encompassing of their needs. Hunters HD Ruby lenses are made with all the same great features of Hunters HD Gold, in an all-new Ruby tint.

These change from light ruby to dark royal ruby in sunlight

Once the Sprinter van was outfitted thanks to Jay’s Hydrographics, Brian could now bring the Magical Mystery Tour to more shooters. What all does the Magical Mystery Tour entail? We’ll tell ya, but the experience is like no other. In the back of the Sprinter van, Brian brings all the toys with him from the all-new JP5 PCC, to custom-built 2011s, and all adorned with brand new Vortex Optics. The best surprise is ready-to-sell custom Hunters HD Gold and Ruby glasses that Brian makes and brings to each match he travels to. You never know what you’ll find. In 2021, Hunters HD Gold partnered with Kona Gold, the number one hemp energy on the market. Shooters can relax under the van’s automatic pop-out canopy, in extra-large chairs, and enjoy a refreshing cold Kona Gold. The inside of the van is air-conditioned 24/7, with comfy leather seats, and charging cables for cell phones. This experience is like no other and nothing you’ve seen at Area or National shooting events before.

One thing Brian has always talked about doing and finally made time for this year was the Hunters HD Gold, Behind the Lens podcast. As Brian travels across the country, he stops and chats with the sports top shooters, industry leaders, and match directors to seek answers to questions everyone wants to know but is too afraid to ask.

What’s next for Hunters HD Gold? Only time will tell, but if we can take anything away from watching the past four years of Hunters HD Gold’s growth, we know there’s a lot more to come.

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*Hunters HD Gold® protective safety glasses are manufactured by Optical Prescription Lab and have been tested for impact and passed to meet the ANSI Z87.1+ - 2020 High Impact requirements**.The lenses are made from impact resistant Trivex® material. Hunters HD Gold® are not unbreakable and offer only limited protection. For work hazards involving the possibility of high mass / high velocity impact, such as fragmenting grinding wheels - goggles, face shields and or machine guards should be considered. Consult with your supervisor or safety specialist to decide which type of protection is required for your work environment. Eyewear should be frequently inspected. Scratched, pitted, or crazed lenses will have reduced visibility and impact resistance, and should be replaced immediately. Tinted lenses filter out 99% of all harmful UV radiation. Tinted lenses offer protection against sun glare, BUT should not be used in welding, brazing or cutting operation or where there are dangerous levels of IR radiation. Spectacles should be worn as supplied. These spectacles do not offer protection against molten metal, chemical splash or Laser light. Hunters HD Gold® should be cleaned using ONLY soap and warm water and dried off with a dry-clean cloth. DO NOT use abrasive cleaning compounds or solvents. **Impact resistant lenses are neither shatterproof nor unbreakable. Coatings may alter the impact resistance of any lens material. Lenses that are tampered with or re-edged are not covered by warranty. Hunters HD Gold lenses are only designed for approved Hunters HD Gold frames. Hunters HD Gold keeps your information when contacted in a Sales Funnell. Once Customers decide to purchase Prescription Lenses then Optical Prescription Lab with gather information and follow all HIPAA Rules and Regulations. Prop65 - This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and/or birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information visit Copyrights © 2023 All Rights Reserved by Hunters HD Gold ®Trivex Is a registered trademark of PPG This site is protected by hCaptcha and its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
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