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What is Locksport?

1 CommentThursday, 30 January 2014  |  Toni

I recently stumbled across the term 'Locksport' and had no idea what it was so I did some digging. It turns out that Locksport is "the sport or recreation that aims to defeat locking systems" and is a popular hobby in Europe and the US.  Who knew!

Locksport enthusiasts enjoy the challenge and excitement of learning how to open all types of locks using techniques normally reserved for locksmiths and security professionals, including picking and bumping. They often meet to share information and participate in recreational activities and contests. 

Louis XVI in the forge.The History

Lock picking has been around for as as long as locks themselves and surprisingly, so has recreational lock picking. As far back as the late 1700's King Louis XVI was know to enjoy the hobby. As was the theoretical physicist Richard Feynman, who alleviated boredom by picking the locks to secure filing cabinets whilst working on the Manhattan Project. 

As an organised hobby, though, lock picking is a recent phenomenon.  The first known group was a German Club called the SSDeV (Sportsfreunde der Sperrtechnik - Deutschland e.V.) which was founded as recently as 1997.  They were quickly followed by the NVHS (now called TOOOL) in the Netherlands in 1999.  Since then clubs have formed in Austria, the US, Canada, Ireland and The UK.

The name 'Locksport' however, only came into existence in 2005 but is now widely used by those involved in the sport as a way of differentiating themselves from locksmiths and criminals.  

                                                                                            The Philosopy

The core philosophical belief of locksport enthusiasts is that of responsible full disclosure. The main aim is to ensure that all vulnerabilities in a locking product are exposed, allowing consumers to make informed decisions before investing in a particular lock.  This directly contradicts the security through obscurity mentality of many in the security industry and locksport hobbyists have received critisism for revealing previously unknown vulnerabilities.  That hasn't stopped them though, and they continue to search for weaknesses in all forms of locks.

Is it ethical?

Unless you're a locksmith or security professional, the ability to pick a lock automatically marks you out as a villain.  It's not fair but it's true. For this reason locksport hobbyists maintain a high ethical standard to ensure their activities can never be perceived as anything but recreational.  

Their credo can be summarised as: Don't pick a lock unless it's yours or it's owner has given you permission to pick it. 

To prevent lockpicking skills from being used by those who would abuse it, members also uphold a zero tolerance policy towards anyone using their locksport skills to commit criminal acts and anyone caught doing so is ejected from the group.

Whilst I don't think locksport will ever become a mainstream hobby, it does seem to be here to stay and we can all rest a bit easier knowing there are people out there keeping the lock manufacturers on their toes.

Thursday, 30 January 2014  |  16:02

Interesting article! Sounds like a challenging recreation!

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