Traveling with a Bow or Firearm

Traveling with a Bow or Firearm on a plane

I travel 6-10x a year on planes to hunt in different destinations and if you don’t do it a lot it can be daunting. Each carrier has their own set of guidelines as well as those implemented for traveling with firearms and bow by the TSA . So over the years i have streamlined my packing in a manor that accommodates most every airlines rules for traveling with a firearm.

  1. Store all your bullets in a factory labeled box, so even if you reload your own ammo you should keep some store bought ammo or factory ammo boxes around.  Also most airline limit the amount of shells/cartridges you can take i never travel with more than one box
  2. Remove your bolt from your rifle and place a cable lock through the action. you can keep your bolt in the same case.
  3. Must have a hard case with TSA approved locks I suggest Pelican or SKB they are well worth the money some airline require you to wait while they scan your case before you head to the gate
  4. Store all your knives, sharp tools and fire starting devices in with your gun
  5. Most airline would prefer you get there 1.5 hour prior to take off but airline like Allegiant and frontier require 2 hours
  6. Most airline when traveling with a firearm require you to go inside to ticket counter to check in but when traveling with archery equipment you can curbside check

    Traveling With Bow

Some tips for packing and traveling:

  • I always pack my optics, one set of camo, radios, gps and other heavy and expensive items in my carry-on which is normally my hunting pack
  • Put musical instrument stickers on the outside of your bow or rifle case it will get treated better
  • Mark all your adjustment points on your bow see video
  • Use a case that dosen’t allow movement of your belongings meaning those that sandwich the content between a protective foam.
  • Make sure your knives, broadheads and other sharp objects are protected and are not floating around loose in your case because they can cut your bow string, bend sight pins or even damage your rifle scope
  • Try to wrap loose items in clothing before you put them in your case but don’t rely on the wrap because TSA will open your case and they will rummage through it most of the times they wont put it back the same way
  • Your bags will almost always come out in the baggage office of the airline you are flying where they check your ID to match the case so don’t freak when you don’t see it on the turnstile and its usually one of the last to come out. Sometimes bows come out in over-sized luggage but never guns.
  •  I wear a travel friendly hunting belt and easy to slip on and off shoes

Here are some specific travel tips From TSA:

Firearms and Ammunition. Firearms, firearm parts, and ammunition may only be transported in checked baggage, not in carry-on baggage. Visit for specific packing requirements.

Air carriers have their own additional requirements for transporting firearms and the amount of ammunition an individual may place in checked baggage. Travelers should contact the air carrier regarding its firearm and ammunition policies.

Bow and Arrows. Bows and arrows are prohibited from carry-on luggage, but may be packed in checked luggage. Sharp objects packed in checked luggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and security screeners.

Animal Repellents. Chemical repellents can be carried in checked luggage if the volume is less than 4 ounces and has active ingredients of less than 2 percent. Most bear repellents exceed these limitations. We suggest buying such items at your destination and leaving them behind upon return.

Hunting Knives and Tools. Hunting knives and certain tools are prohibited from carry-on luggage. These items should be packed in checked luggage. Sharp objects packed in checked luggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and screeners.