Tactical Rx and its parent company Sports Optical is a family and veteran-owned company, owned and operated by Master Optician Bret Hunter. Having worn glasses since the fourth grade and never finding a solution for any of his high-action activities (he was a competitor in one of the first X-games), Bret set upon a path that would revolutionize the sports eyewear industry. Before he even started Opticianary school, which he paid for using the American GI Bill, he knew where he wanted to end up: creating a solution for prescription sports vision. After graduation he found work at a high-end optical store in the mall (not to be named) and disappointed by the lack of options for sports optics, in March of 1993 he started Sports Optical. Of the many challenges to overcome, the greatest was the fact that technology for fitting prescriptions into curved frames didn’t yet exist. The greater optical industry told him it was impossible, defied physics, and would be too distorted, so for the first few years he worked with the few insert systems and the flatter lenses that were available, until finally, after much experimentation, the magic began.
The initial challenge was to put lenses into a curved, wrapped frame while maintaining the purity of the optics. It sounds easy, but when you change the curve and angle of a lens it changes the power and induces prism, which means if you follow the eye doctor’s Rx the experience will resemble that of being in a fishbowl. Bret understood that in order for the optics to work he had to adjust the prescription to accommodate for this curvature. Back in 1995, this was cutting-edge, fringe technology.
Of course, with vision, the goal can never be mediocrity, and the optical clarity provides constant, honest feedback. Beyond being optically sound, Bret knew the lenses needed look and fit like the original non-prescription lenses, and be highly durable to withstand extreme situations his clientele would demand of them. To ensure these qualities, Tactical Rx lenses are conceived in our laboratory and confirmed in the real world. Computers can’t simulate the human eye and brain well enough to work with the huge number of variables involved with eyesight under different conditions, nor can they provide accurate feedback for lens behavior across diverse environments, climates, light conditions, etc. As it is, custom sport lenscrafting requires a passionate blend of technology and what Bret insists is not rocket science but common sense. In any case, it’s safe to say that we are the best manufacturer of custom, handcrafted prescription shooting and sport lenses in the world.
By the end of 1995 the basic optical formulas had been determined through thousands of real-world, trial and error experiments. Since then, we’ve continually made advancements as new lens technologies become available, however rather than immediately pushing the newest and greatest lenses on the market we run our own independent, in-house testing on everything we sell before offering it to the public. We test to be sure new lens materials meet our standards for quality and durability, and evaluate the cost we’ll need to pass on to our customers. Beyond giving us confidence in our materials and products, this also gives us a deep understanding of how a lens works and how serves customer’s specific need and conditions.
In 1996 Bret invented and introduced interchangable prescription lenses that could fit into wrapped, sport-format frames. Eureka moment. Total game-changer. This now allowed him to hand-craft prescription sport lenses which were compatible with the wide variety of frames being sold by the rapidly growing sports eyewear industry. This was when he quite literally created the custom prescription sport lens industry.
Around 1998 he began to put mirror coatings on clear and transitional lenses, which created some lens styles so unique that calls from the lens-coating shop confirming our requests became commonplace.
At the end of 1999 he made the next major advancement in sports lenses when Bret invented the open-bottom wrap-frame lenses using a step bevel to mount them into the frame. He originally paired this lens with the Rudy Project Kerosene frame and since then he has put the lenses into nearly every style of sports frame imaginable. By putting lenses into frames that no one else in the world could, this technology soon earned him all sorts of attention, from articles and press, to imitation by others, including the giants of the sport optics industry. However, while these other manufacturers began to offer something similar, Bret’s unique approach to experimentation and the resulting proprietary formulas ensure a fundamental gap in optical quality and lens performance.
Today, Bret is constantly improving and refining his lenscrafting process to push boundaries and craft lenses that no one else does. This is why when a customer calls up with a strong prescription and a story about how no other company will try to make his lenses we say we’ll do our best; it’s how we further advance our expertise in Rx sports eyewear. It’s also how Tactical Rx has come to be known at the premier prescription shooting and safety lenscrafter in the world. All of our lenses are custom made and finished by hand, creating a process that combines the craftsmanship of traditional optometry combined with the benefits of modern technology. It allows him the technical freedom to make lenses specifically designed to the customer’s wishes and also gives him the ability to continually expand the field of sports optics.
If you’d like some lenses or would like to learn more about what Tactical Rx can do for you, give us a call at 888-807-5165 or write us using from the Contact Us page.
Bret Hunter and the Tactical Rx Team
1985-1989 – US Army Combat Engineer. Air Assault, Sapper, USMAPS
1991 – AAS Opticianry
1993 – Founded Sports Optical originally known as Eye Tech