How To Travel With Archery Gear (Flight | Train | Bus)

How To Travel With Archery Gear (Flight | Train | Bus)

One of the fun things about archery is that you can practice it in so many different places and environments. So many archers travel to different cities and even countries, to join competitions or try new terrain. But it does require some planning since you can’t just hop on a plane or a bus with any luggage.

Traveling with archery gear requires some planning, but it is definitely possible. You’ll need to get the right type of bow case to check-in and check with your specific company or airline. You should call ahead to check with your travel company and arrive early before boarding.

It goes without saying that you have to check your equipment, and can’t take it with you as a carry-on. You’ll have to pack it correctly and safely, so there no risk of any injury of the security workers.

My goal in this post is to help you have an easy time traveling with your archery equipment, and dive into the details, so you don’t forget anything important.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

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Do you have a bow case?

If you’re going to travel with your bow and arrows, you’ll need a way to safely store them. You’ll have to organize everything in a bow case, so nothing falls out and that your gear is kept safe.

You can get either a soft or hard shell bow case. I’d suggest getting a hardshell case if you’re planning to travel with your archery equipment. Soft cases can be good as well, mainly because they’re lighter, but a high-quality hard case will prevent damage that might be caused to your gear.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should never have anything sharp laying around inside the bag. For example, you should probably store your arrowheads in a container, and strap your arrow shafts inside the case. The more organized you are, the less likely you are to encounter problems.

You want to keep your things safe, so it’s crucial that you use a proper TSA lock to keep your gear safe. TSA locks are lock that the transportation company workers can open to check your checked-in bags. If you lock your things with a regular lock, they’d probably have to break it.

Hard bow case vs. soft bow case

The bow case you choose is really important for keeping your equipment safe. Hard cases are typically made of hard plastic, while soft cases are made of rugged fabric. I recommend getting a hard case for travel, because they protect your gear better; but let’s consider the pros and cons of both.

Soft cases are perfect for your day to day. They’re lighter than hardshell cases, so carrying your bow around with a soft case will be much more pleasant. They’re usually made of hard fabric that’s hard to damage, and with a lot of pockets to easily organize your equipment.

On the other hand, hard cases can absorb hits and pressure without damaging your equipment. They’re usually waterproof as well, and sometimes even heat protected. Though they’re heavier, I think they’re much better for travel, because they will keep your gear protected.

Best bow case for air travel

If you need a good hardshell compound bow case, I recommend you get the Flambeau Outdoors 6461SC case (link to Amazon). It comes at an affordable price and has all the features you need. The shell is made of thick plastic, and your bow is protected by a foam layer. It has room to safely hang 12 arrows. I think it will cover all your needs.

How to travel with archery equipment by flight

The first thing to remember is that just like any other method of transportation, you won’t be able to take your gear as a carry-on. You’ll have to check with the specific airline about their archery equipment policy since policies and fees vary. Most airlines have this information listed on their websites.

You can check the TSA website to see what items you can bring through checkpoints. Regarding bows and arrows, the TSA policy is that you can get bows and arrows in a checked bag, but can’t on a carry-on. You can see the updated policy and others on the TSA website. Airlines follow this policy.

Try packing your gear as well as possible. Remember that airlines put the safety of their passengers first, so your luggage is probably going to go through X-ray, be opened and checked multiple times. Any shape objects should be put in hard containers, and the equipment should be well strapped to the case.

The TSA and airlines also have policies regarding your bow case itself and its size. Your best bet will be to call ahead and make sure they’re both OK with you adding a checked-in archery equipment bag, and that your case fits the regulations. It will be a shame to arrive at the airport just to find out you can’t check your gear in, so make sure to contact them.

Are you traveling internationally?

Things can be a bit different if you’re going to fly internationally. Traveling abroad to a tournament of just for a different view is exciting, but there are some things to consider. The things to look out for are the US customs and the local regulations regarding bows and arrow in the destination you’re going to.

Before your flight, make sure to register your archery gear in the customs office. The relevant updated form can be found at the customs website, under “Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad”. This form registers any of your personal belongings you’re taking with you abroad, so you won’t be charged by the customs when you’ll land back.

Another thing to consider is the laws and regulations regarding the carrying of bows and arrows in your destination. Many counties might require you to fill forms to approve your gear. Remember that you must follow the rules of the county you’re traveling to. You should probably check and contact the relevant offices before the trip to make sure you’re doing everything correctly.

Did you consider shipping ahead?

Some archers find it easier to ship their gear in advance, instead of dealing with checking in their gear and bureaucracy. It will save you a lot of time. You’ll just have to pack your gear well, ship it to your destination, and pick it up once you land. The cost should be only about the same as the alternative.

If you decide to ship your equipment, make sure to get the proper insurance, so if your package gets lost or anything happens to it. Archery gear is pretty expensive, and you want to be sure you’re covered.

Even if you have a good bow case, put your gear inside the case, but also place your case inside a box. A good cardboard box with packing material will ensure your gear is safe.

I’d seriously consider shipping your archery equipment if you know about your trip in advance. It will make the travel experience much smoother and save you a lot of time.

Taking archery gear on a Bus / Train

Traveling by buses and trains with archery equipment is not much different than flying. You’ll need to check your bow case, just like you would on a plane. Each company has its own rules and regulations, so make sure to check at their website, and even better – pick up the phone and call them.

Typically buses and trains have policies that are less strict than airlines do, but make sure your case fits the criteria that they specify. Most companies put a limit on the size and weight of your checked-in luggage, so make sure you’re following the restrictions to avoid extra fees.


Taking archery gear with you when traveling can seem a bit intimidating, but it’s actually not complicated if you plan ahead. With some research on your specific company’s website and a quick phone call, you’ll be able to enjoy practicing archery in a completely new terrain.

On a quick note. Try not to get angry at people asking you about your luggage and checking it. They’re just trying to do their job, and keep everybody safe. They’ll probably try to hurry to avoid delaying you if you just have a positive attitude. In any case, don’t arrive at security at the last minute. You’re likely to spend more time there than you’re used to.

Relax, and remember that everything is an experience you learn from. The first time traveling with your gear might become messy, but you’ll learn from it and have an easier time the next time.