By Alicia Hurley
Try to arrive at the airport with enough time not to rush or panic. You need additional time to check a rifle through security. Try not to be too nervous especially if it’s your first time travelling with a firearm. Lots of people do it. Not all airport personnel are familiar with the rules of how to travel with a firearm so be patient, only do what they ask and don’t offer them anything that you think they should be doing or looking at.
First thing to remember is every airport will treat you differently with a firearm. Some like to have you open it up and show them everything and some will just pass it through. Be prepared that after you get it all nicely place in the case at home you may need to open it again. Be sure to have your keys for the locks on your case handy just in case. Don’t worry about the people behind you waiting in line. They should have given themselves extra time to check in.
You want to make sure that you preserve the fittings and position of things on your rifle as best as possible. Like where your harness goes and your sights. Best thing to do before packing it is to mark where everything goes with a bit of nail polish. The sight is really the one with the highest importance, but it’s always good to mark everything else you know you really like just in case.
When packing it into the case you may want to do a nice cleaning of the rifle so when you get to your destination you are set and ready to go. Next remove the barrel from the stock completely. Loosening the bedding bolts is fine for car trips because you are the one usually handling your rifle with the utmost care, airport staff may not. Screw the bedding bolts back into the barrel so you don’t lose them.
Next remove your bolt and put it in a cloth bag or wrap it in a small face cloth or something similar to keep it protected. The cloth is also handy for rubbing it down if anything gets wet during training. Remove the sight after you have marked where it usually sits. When you lay your sight and bolt in the case, lay them on the inside/hinge side of the case not on the opening side. If things do somehow get cracked open in the moving process they are on the far side of the case and won’t fall out as easily.
Remove all clips from the holders. Leaving the clips in the holders can crack the stock. Put your clips in a bag is also handy too for keeping them together. You can lay them in your case like the sight and bolt. If you can get them into your case you can put them into your regular check luggage.
Your harness will need to be unhooked from the top part of the stock and laid out to get it to fit properly. Avoid removing it completely from the bottom of the stock because again if you have the strings/bungee tied in the right position you won’t want to lose that setting.
Your ammunition absolutely has to go in your regular checked luggage. Try and group it all together in one area of your bag and tape the boxes shut as they have a habit of breaking open. Always travel with it in the original packaging. Make sure you declare that you have ammunition in your checked luggage. It will go through the same screening process as your rifle and skis, usually at over size luggage. The airline ticket agent will escort you to the area.
Make sure you have your Firearms License and all important documents relating to your fire in your carry on bag.