Just like a professional fighter who refines the smaller parts of their craft—such as breathing or footwork—we too can train our fundamentals.
The purpose of this guide and these lock picking training exercises is to isolate and refine areas in which many new lock pickers struggle.
While these exercises may at first seem oversimplified or even trivial, they are truly powerful techniques. If practiced, I guarantee you will see fast and significant results in your lock picking skills.
These three exercises are specifically designed for pin tumbler locks and single pin picking and require a basic understanding of lock picking. If you are brand new or need a little touching up on the basics, be sure to check out my ultimate lock picking guide!
With that, let’s get to it!
Other Awesome Lock Picking Guides:
1. Orientation Training
This first lock picking training exercise is, in my opinion, one of the most simple yet powerful techniques that beginners can use to amplify their skill and progression.
This exercise is excellent for:
- The absolute beginner who is lost in the lock.
- Those who have trouble feeling and finding binding pins.
- Any picker who struggles with tight keyways or heavy warding.
In this exercise, we are going to spend a little time orientating ourselves within the lock to better understand where our pick is at all times.
You will only need a hook-type lock pick and a lock—no turning tools will be used in this first exercise!
The Exercise Step-By-Step
Step 1: Grab your lock pick and lock just as you would if you were about to try picking it. Remember, we are not tensioning the lock.
Step 2: Place the tip of your hook on the frontmost pin—pin #1.
Step 3: Slowly lift and lower that pin several times and pay attention to how it feels. Also, take note of any scraping or skipping, which indicates that your pick is not directly on the pin.
Step 4: Fully lower the pin and move the tip of your pick to the next pin—pin #2—and like the last pin, lift and lower it several times, paying very close attention to what you feel.
Step 5: Continue moving down the pin stack until you have located and probed each pin. Repeat this entire process until you can jump from pin to pin with ease!
Practice this for 5 minutes a day, and you'll quickly notice that you will no longer stumble around the keyway, nor will you have a hard time finding your pins!
2. Feedback Training
In this next lock picking exercise, we will practice identifying and setting binding pins and establish a solid understanding of what that feedback feels like.
Practicing this is excellent for:
- Those who struggle to find binding pins.
- Those who struggle to know if a pin is set or not.
You will need a hook-type lock pick, a turning tool, and a lock—preferably with no security pins.
The Exercise Step-By-Step
Step 1: Apply light tension to your lock—that is enough to bind at least one pin— and begin probing the keyway for a binding pin.
Step 2: Once you find your first binding pin, slowly lift that pin to a full set. Focus on what you feel throughout the process.
Step 3: Release tension and let the pin fall back into the plug.
Step 4: Once more, apply light tension and slowly set your binding pin—again focusing on the feedback you receive. Continue setting and unsetting this first binding pin 10 more times.
Step 5: Next, set your first binding pin once more and then begin probing the remaining pins until you find the 2nd binding pin. Carefully lift it to a set and once again focus intensely on what you feel.
Step 6: Once again, release tension and practice setting these first two pins ten more times.
Step 7: Continue this same pattern by locating, setting, and unsetting the next binding pins while focusing on the feedback. Do this until you've practiced setting each pin in the lock!
Now through this exercise, you will eventually learn and memorize the binding order of the lock. You'll need this for the next training, so write it down if you can.
3. The One Touch Challenge
Alright, so in this last lock picking practice exercise, we're going to throw everything we've learned from the previous two exercises into something I like to call the one-touch challenge!
We are going to challenge ourselves to pick our lock by lifting each pin only once.
This training aims to show you how easy lock picking can be when your fundamentals are refined and if you approach the lock logically and methodically.
You will need a hook-type lock pick, a turning tool, and a lock without security pins.
The Exercise Step-By-Step
Step 1: Spend a little time determining the lock's binding order– refer to the previous exercise if you need guidance.
Step 2: Once you have it, write it down and put the lock away for 24 hours. We need time to forget everything else we know about how to pick that particular lock.
Step 3: Approaching the lock with a fresh mind and the binding order already known. Apply light tension and begin lifting each binding pin with the goal of touching it only once. If you screw up, drop all the pins and start again.
If your lock has five pins, you should unlock the lock with five movements.
Wrapping It Up!
I hope you found these three lock picking practice exercises helpful, and while they may seem quite basic—they truly can skyrocket your fundamental skills.
It's always easier to pick a lock when you don't have to focus on the basics.
If you liked this guide, consider checking out my beginner lock pick sets and my Academy, where I cover countless other lock picking topics.
Thank you for reading, and happy Picking!