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Improve your lockpicking skills in 5 easy steps...

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1. Practice little and often...

It is much better to practice lockpicking if you sit down and practice say for a short time - take a break and return to it later rather than one longer practice session. Not only will you be able to practice for longer overall but during the breaks your brain will work away in the background piecing method and technique together. You will often find therefore that when you return after a break your success rate will be better.

2.  Get yourself as many locks as possible

Car boot sales, garage sales, friends and relatives are all really good sources for old unwanted locks. The good thing about our requirement for locks is of course it doesn't matter if the locks do not have keys with them.

The more locks you can practice on the better. It can also help your confidence because having many locks will mean that there will be locks of varying difficulties. Therefore, if you are struggling with a really difficult lock you can move on to the next one that may be easier thus preventing you from getting despondent and giving up. The more successes you have the more keen you will be to continue to practice - and the more practice the more locks you will open. You will be in a positive cycle opening more locks, getting better and so on.

3.  Disassemble as many locks as you can

This point is linked in a way with the last one. Try to get hold of and disassemble as many locks as possible. By actually seeing the inner workings of a lock you will get a better understanding of what is actually happening when you unlock/pick a lock. Not only will you have a great visualisation in your mind when picking but by actually taking apart locks you can often discover methods of attack and bypass techniques that will or will not work.

4.  Use clear practice locks

Practice locks are essentially locks that have been cut away so that the inner workings can be seen. They are great to see if your technique is working well.

What this means is that whilst picking a clear practice lock you can can actually see how your pick is interacting with the pins within the lock. Therefore, you can begin to link the sensations of the pick and tiny movements in the lock with what you can see is happening within the lock.

This often results in a much quicker learning process and it of course helps to ensure that your technique is correct.

Personally I found it particularly helpful to see just how much tension can be too much which is of course can be the main reason for a lock not opening.

By seeing inside the lock at the same time as picking you can see pins binding and you can therefore quickly learn how to apply the correct turning force with your turning tools.

5.  Training boards

These are another item that can help with improving your technique. Essentially training boards are simple one or more locks mounted on a wooden board. Often the locks on the board can be easily removed and replaced with new ones.

The benefit of using a training board is that you do not have to worry about holding a lock that you are trying to pick in your hands.

Very often if you are asked to open a lock, especially if you are working as a locksmith, the lock will be mounted on a door. It's good therefore to practice picking a lock on a similar mounted board. Also, holding a lock whilst pricking leads you to feel a lot of what is happening when picking - you don't have this out in the field and shouldn't get used to it.

Also, in mounting the lock you will be able to hold the turning tool properly, rather than holding the lock and the turning tool together. Therefore, you will be able to develop better techniques.

I hope that you are able to follow these and your overall picking skills improve. If you have your own tips for improving that you wouldn't mind sharing with myself and the readers of this newsletter please pass them on.

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