First of all, welcome to LP101!
to answer your questions, from bobby pins to real professional picks, the difference in my picking skill increased about 200%. I think that this may have been part mental (can't blame picks if they are professional etc.) but they definately do help. The ppl at south ord can help you out if you need picks, the are great for overseas purchasers. But first, i would read the MIT guide (put in MIT guide in the above search icon,) print it off and read that lots of times. I still read it heaps.
I would then go to this post:
this will teach you how to make picks out of hacksaw blades. dl this movie regardless of internet speed, it is the best pick making movie i know of. (look on google for pick designs, and feel free to pm me if you have any problems)
I would then go to a hardware store, and buy a crappy lock, such as a kwikset, or a master No. 1 or No. 3. These locks are cheap. and very easy to pick open (works both ways!) even with home made tools.
Pick these locks several times, and really try to visualise the lock, and its mechanics behind the lock.
Then I would buy a lockwood replacement cylinder, take all of the pins out, and then put one pin stack in (pick this 50 times), then two stacks (pick 100 times), put three in (pick 150 times) etc. This is a great way to learn.
If you are still fully excited about the world of lockpicking, and the manipulation of locks, only now would i start to think about buying picks. Go to
and buy either the PXS-05L, MPXS-08, MPXS-11, PXS-14 or MPXS-14. I wouldn't bother buying any bigger picksets at the moment, as you will only use about 3-4 picks most of the time. I also wouldn't even suggest going with the jackknife picks, as they are al gimmicks, and dont give the feed back of regular standard picks. I have heard nothing but complaints about these, as it is seen as a 'cool gadget' when youi should be looking for tools.
if you have any problems along the way, Look in the FAQ section, then use the search icon at the top of the page. The thing that buggs me most, and alot of other posters is that ppl dont search enough when they need answers to there questions. This is here for your advantage, and holds many of other noobies questions that are very often the same questions you ask. (i used to do this when i first registered, so its better to get in the habit early.) If your question still hasnt been answered, ask, but do it politely and dont suggest any illegal actvities.
Hopefully you will enjoy picking as much as we all do, and the best of luck to you!
(if you have any problems at all, regarding buying, making, picking, feel free to pm me, better to ask individually then to annoy every one else with repeated posts etc. I will be happy to answer from an Aussies point of view. (check my location, same as yours!!!