Written by Steve Foster | Published in USPSA Magazine
If you have traveled to a major match in the last couple of years, there is a good chance you have met Brian Conley, president of Hunters HD Gold. I first met Brian in the fall of 2016 and he convinced me to try his new line of glasses, which are now commonplace in the action shooting sports of USPSA and Steel Challenge. I had the opportunity to sit down to talk with Brian about his new invention, Hunters HD Ruby.
USPSA: After all of the success you have had with Hunters HD Gold, what made you offer Hunters HD Ruby?
Brian: I went to my first "shotgun" match in 2018, which was Agulia Cup in Decatur, Texas. I met many great shooters who competed in shoot shotgun events. They loved the contrast and crisp view of the Hunters HD Gold Lens. They, however, based on the great marketing by other companies, wanted a purple and rose-colored option. This was something at the time that was not even on my plate for the Hunters HD Gold brand due to attending events and building the brand. I created a lens that worked great for hunting and shooting, so this threw me off. I started listening to what they said and started studying. After all, engaging and listening to shooters is how I continuously improve the product and brand.
USPSA: Not a lot of people would have guessed Hunters HD Ruby was born in the shotgun world. Shotgunners wanted red, why is the color significant?
Brian: I started studying why the "color" was so important and wanted to know exactly what it blocked or enhanced. I heard from the shotgun community the purple/rose color enhanced the orange color of a clay pigeon against the sky. I knew that colors would enhance certain things but was confused on the Ultra Violet (UV) side of it. I found out that the grey base of a photochromic color made this possible. The Hunters HD Gold Lens has a brown base photochromic for contrast and being able to walk in and out of my garage not having to take my lenses off to see on a bright day. It was then I knew we were onto a solution which (would) allow us to take the shotgun market by storm.
USPSA: What was the process from there on developing the right color for both bright light and low light conditions?
Brian: I then went to Marcus, my lab manager, and said we need to find the right medical dye to begin this process to get the UV spectrum blocking that red and purple. This process started two weeks after Aguila Cup. He kept bringing me "solutions" that he thought were good, and I was not happy with the exact color. The color was just not what I wanted to make the sky pop in low light or cloudy and rainy days. This went on for about six months with no success. We went through over 30 different dye combinations with no positive results. I looked down at my wedding ring set with a large ruby in the center. "That's the color!" Hunters HD Ruby!! I went to Marcus and said if it's not this color don't bring to me, it's going to be called Hunters HD Ruby!
USPSA: So, where did you get the ruby color from?
Brian: 2020 happened and the year started off in confusion. Marcus came to me in March and said there is a new medical dye that just hit the market after Vision Expo! This is a show like SHOT Show, but for the optical industry. It's a medical dye that helps color blindness and other eye solutions. He said it's intense, but it's got the wow factor and it's going to be the perfect hue you are looking for. I told Marcus to make it happen and get my Rx made ASAP.
After three days of playing with the timing of the dye, to make the lens lighter or darker, Marcus walked into my office and said, we figured the dye out and I think we have it. The first appearance was just wow! just sitting on the counter in the lab before putting them on. It was a perfect match to my ring. I put it on indoors and was like, this is crazy intense! I walked from my office to the outdoors and was amazed at what I first saw. I saw the layers in clouds like I have never seen with Hunters HD Gold or the naked eye before. I asked if they were polarized and Marcus said, heck no. It gave me depth in the sky like never before.
USPSA: Now you have tried Hunters HD Ruby for the first time, who was the first to try a pair and what was their feedback?
Brian: I called my friend, Stan Shiparski, to go shoot clays. I made up his Rx without his knowledge; he was one of the first to try Hunters HD Gold before it had a name back in 2017. We showed up two days later at the range, and I got out of the truck wearing the new Hunters HD Ruby and Stan immediately noticed the color. He said "what the hell have you got on?" I said well it's what WE are going to shoot with today and I handed him his pair in his Rx. He first put them on and said "heck, that is aggressive!!" I said give it some time, your colors will come back. As we are loading up the golf cart, I noticed him looking all around as the colors came back. He asked, what is going on with his eyes? All of the colors started popping again.
We went and shot the course and the orange clays were popping like never before. The rabbits on the ground were glowing and Stan said "well no excuse any longer about not seeing the dang clays". We both agreed we had a solution for shotgunners.
USPSA: It sounds as though Stan fell in love with the Ruby lenses. What was your next step in expanding your pilot outside of the shotgun community?
Brian: I immediately went back the next day to the office and picked out several shooters across the US that I have made relationships with Hunters HD Gold to try this new lens option I had for them. I did not tell them the name, and I did not tell them who was all testing the lens. I just wanted raw feedback without them talking together. It was a huge success. Greg Yen was one of these people and he shared the following account of wearing Rubys. "I like my Hunters HD Rubys because it helps my red dot be extra vibrant and draws my eyes to it for fast laser focus. It's nice to have a choice of the best two lenses available. It doesn't matter where or what I'm shooting or doing. I know I'm covered, when trusting my eyes to Hunters HD Gold."
USPSA: As one of the people who piloted the lens myself, I can attest to Greg's comments. The first time I put on Hunters HD Ruby my Vortex Razor looked like a road flare! I had to turn it down even on bright days.
We have talked a lot about shooting. You have mentioned in the past Hunters HD Gold can have medical benefits such as treating Seasonal Affective Disorder. Any other benefits to Hunters HD Ruby?
Brian: I went to Dr. Charles Gloff, my cousin, who is red/green color blind to see if he saw an improvement with the lens. There is NOT a single choice or solution for red/green color blindness. He called me when he received it and was amazed. He took a colorblind test on his computer and said before using the Ruby lens he scored in the High 60's low 70's. After putting the lens on he scored in the high 80's low 90's. I was excited with his results and he gave me the thumbs up to say it helped him with color blindness.
USPSA: Any other interesting attributes to the lens you would like people to know?
Brian: There was a huge side effect of the lens I did not see coming. I went to Frostproof, Florida to see if I could see over the east berms with them and not be blinded as the sun came over them. I was pleased to have a solution for that blinding light. Feedback was coming in that they can see the red dot better and red fiber optic sights like never before. I was excited and nervous at the same time. This was not a lens to replace Hunters HD Gold, but something to complement the product line. Mel Rodero said it best, "Hunters HD Ruby is another option for red dot shooters, not a replacement for Hunters HD Gold. Hunters HD Ruby would not work well in the following conditions: driving, shooting indoors, low light or behind the computer. It was designed for staring at the sky in different environments to make the clays look like they were on fire in the sky."
If you would like to try Hunters HD Ruby, be on the lookout for Brian out on the range at one of the 40-plus matches he will be at this year to demo a pair. Hunters HD Ruby is also available at several retail locations, and more information can be found at huntershdgold.com.