TURLOCK (CBS13) – Branden Gover is ranked 11th in nation in the junior division of trap shooting, but his chances at making the U.S. Olympic team may be shot.
“Those guns are perfect,” Branden said. “I always make sure they are oiled, cleaned, 100% ready to go at any time.”
Branden has been training for years to represent the U.S. in trap shooting in the next Olympic Games.
“I had a gut feeling something bad happened,” Branden said.
But about two weeks ago, when the 18-year-old flew back to SFO on a Southwest Airlines flight from the National Junior Olympic Shotgun Championships in Colorado, his two custom built Perazzi competition shotguns didn’t show up.
“Just didn’t make it on the plane …that’s all we got. No explanation,” said Teresa Gover, Branden’s mom.
The Govers say Southwest told them the guns would be on the next flight out. But when they arrived the next day, something was wrong.
“All I know is there are dents and scratches that weren’t there before. And it’s pretty hard to scratch up that, especially that deep, with that kind of case. That’s not easy,” Branden said.
Branden says he always packs his guns in bubble wrap and covers them in foam. But, he says they arrived damaged – with latches undone like someone tried to pry them open.
The damage estimated at $11,000.
“It’s either somebody dropped it, tried to get into it or threw it on the ground…it’s up for debate,” Branden said.
A spokesperson for Southwest tells CBS13 that its central baggage services department is in contact with the Govers and is investigating the incident.
Branden says it will take months to fix his custom fitted guns, but his chance to make that U.S. Olympic Team is next week.
“It’s all up in my head. And when my weapon system is not 100%, it messes with you a little bit,” Branden said.
While Branden waits for his primary weapons to be repaired, he’s forced to train and compete with a substitute gun which he’s not familiar with.
“Do your job a little better, that’s all I can say, ‘cause some people are trying to make a career out of this stuff,” Branden said.
The Govers say Southwest did offer them a $100 voucher to use for another Southwest flight. However, they are choosing to drive to Branden’s next competition instead.