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Locksport is the name given to a sub-culture of lockpicking enthusiasts that pick locks for, well, sport. Locksport. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive in to the deeper bits. Locksmiths have not traditionally been happy with the locksport community, for any number of reasons. If you ask 10 locksmiths you’ll get 12 answers. Locksport enthusiasts don’t understand locksmithingLocksport just trains criminals. Lockpicking isn’t even something we do most of the time. Why would I bother picking locks for fun? I do that for a living? Some of these arguments are legitimate, some of them are personal preference, and still others are just so full of emotion that they aren’t worthy of repeating. I’m here, however, with a few arguments for the opposing team.

Locksport as Training

The most obvious benefit that locksport has on the locksmithing industry is training. Sure, lockpicking is only a small piece of the locksmithing pie, but frankly, it’s one of the more technical pieces, and the hardest for a new smith to grasp. Plus, if you know you have a person skilled in lockpicking, odds are you have a person who will be able to learn the rest of the trade without much hassle.

Now, that’s not to say everyone that does locksport would want to learn the rest of what it takes to be a locksmith. They won’t. But there will be a few that do, and it is these people that we should be reaching out to. These people are the future of the locksmithing trade. We should be bringing them into the fold, hiring them as apprentices, and training them to become locksmith of their own. A world with personal property, and secrets, is a world that will need locks. A world with locks, is a world with locksmiths. This isn’t going to change, but our perspective of what being a locksmith is may need to.

Which leads me to my next point.

Locksport as a Path To Legislature

One reason professional locksmiths tend to dislike the locksport community is the fear of scam locksmiths. This is a legitimate problem, and one that we have not solved to date. But, the thing is, this was a problem all along. There are scam carpenters. Scam plumbers. Scam doctors, for crying out loud. Wherever there is a profession that requires actual knowledge and experience to perform — which is to say, all professions — there will be a criminal there, pretending to have the requirements, and taking the money and running. This is not a locksport problem, this is a human nature problem.

Will some of these people come from these lockpicking communities? Probably. In fact, I dare say that is a guarantee. But, does that mean that every person that practices lockpicking is going to become a scammer? No, it doesn’t.

TOOOL (The Open Organization Of Lockpickers) is probably the largest lockpicking / locksport community. They have tackled this very thing in their by-laws:

2. Never disseminate knowledge or tools of lockpicking to individuals whom you know or whom have reason to suspect would seek to employ such skills or equipment in a criminal manner.

I mention all of this as a way of leading into the fact that by working with the locksport communities, the locksmithing industry can grow our numbers, and build a stronger dialogue with our political leaders around the issues that we are facing. We can guide legislation that is both beneficial to locksmiths, while also guiding the locksport enthusiasts in a direction that gives them what they want.

Speaking of giving them what they want…

Locksport is Good Business

Locksport enthusiasts buy locks. Like, a lot of locks. Of increasing cost, and quality. Why? Because they like the challenge. They also buy locks of different styles, which can grow expensive on their part. And they are more than happy to pay that cost. And, in states that allow it, you can even sell lockpicks, and other tools of the trade. Unlike your typical customer, a locksport enthusiast is going to be more smiles than tears when you’re taking their money. That alone is reason enough for some of us to want to do business with them.

Locksport also opens up avenues for your business that are brand new. You can now get paid to teach people how to pick locks. You can hold seminars, adult ed classes, and even your own YouTube channel. YouTube, especially, will bring you closer to locksport enthusiasts because they are the audience that are going to want to see everything that you have to say about locks and lockpicking.

Locksport Helps Customer Service

We all know the struggle of trying to explain to a customer the benefit of purchasing the more expensive lock over the Kwikset brand. Cheap brands have done more harm than locksport enthusiasts ever thought of doing. In fact, by being able to point to a group of amateurs who are able to pick open that $15 Kwikset lock your customer wants you to install, you can guide your customer to a more secure option. Because lets face it, when someone breaks into their house because of that cheap lock, they aren’t going to blame themselves, and they’re not going to blame the manufacturer.

They’re going to blame you, the locksmith.

A Chef and Their Kitchen

Just as a Chef may not want to cook dinner when they return home for the night, you as a locksmith may not feel the urge to pick locks on your limited time off. That is fine, but it does not mean there aren’t others who find the puzzle of the lock enjoyable. By opening our eyes to the world around us, we can see that lockpicking enthusiasts have done more good than harm to our industry. By identifying, and reporting, flaws in locks, they improve both the locks, and our understanding of the locks that are currently in circulation. They improve our ability to help our customers, and they train the future leaders of our industry. Locksport is a new sub-culture, but it isn’t going away, and I, for one, welcome them.

Photo by Todd Huffman