Well a year has pass quickly, and next week were back for another EBR, which along with SHOT Show is one of my favorite non-hunting airgun events of the year. Unfortunately again this year my time will be truncated, as I need to leave for Japan Sunday morning. But even though it makes for a long trip I’m stopping in Phoenix on the way, and will be there Friday and Saturday! This is a time to meet other airgunners, shoot, and have a good time with a lot of great people.
Every year people come from far and wide and there is always a number of questions on traveling by air with airguns, so I thought I’d provide a short primer. First, the safest approach is to treat your airgun like a firearm. As a matter of fact I don’t even mention it’s an airgun as this has the potential to confuse the process. The process for handling firearms is pretty well documented, and somebody at the check in counter and later TSA will know the rules. This may not be the case with airguns, and I have run into difficulty in the past when airport staff didn’t know what to do with airguns. Don’t think that because it’s an airgun it will be easier to travel with …. it comes down to process and not what’s actually be transported.
You’ll need to pack your rifle in a lockable hardcase, and pellets go into a case that is packed into the gun case. It’s not required, but not a bad idea if this small box can be locked. Don’t carry tanks, these will have to be emptied and fitting removed to allow a visual inspection, and is a real hassle. There will be plenty of air at the EBR, just make sure to bring your fill probes, nothing worse than having your gun, an air tank, and no way to connect the two! When traveling on hunts, I’ll either ship my tanks ahead, or rent from a dive shop, and carry a yoke to make sure I can connect.
When you get to the airport, go to the check in counter and declare that you have a rifle. They will ask you if its empty, I generally remove the magazine, place it in a plastic bag, and tape it to the gun. The agent will give you a card, usually bright orange, that you sign and place into the case, before locking it up. It’s different from airport to airport, but at this point the bag will be loaded or you will be asked to bring it to TSA. TSA will generally have you give them your keys and standby while they X-ray and hand search the case. I stand by quietly, don’t talk unless asked a question, and keep my responses to the questions asked. Most of these guys are cool and just doing their job. Every once in a while you run into a jerk, and in my experience making it simple for them to do their job is the best approach. Once the gun is passed through you are on your way.
When you arrive at your destination airport. your rifle may come down through regular baggage or it may go to over-sized or special handling. In Phoenix your rifle will go to special baggage which is right by the regular carousel, but any uniformed airport representative can point you in the right direction if you run into problems. That’s really all there is to it, I’ve taken well over a hundred flights with airguns, and only had one or two problems (all at the Denver airport interestingly).
When you get to the EBR look me up, it is always a pleasure for me to me other airgunners and I am genuinely interested to hear what you have to say about airguns, hunting ……. or even better airgun hunting! Over the years I’ve meet some shooters at this event that have become good hunting friends I’ve shared some great field time with.