While it is true that the Army Corp of Engineers built the locks & dams with commercial traffic in mind, the locks are for use by all watercraft. It doesn't matter if you are in a kayak or a large cruiser, you have the right to lock through. There is no charge for locking through.
The Red River is navigable for commercial vessels from Shreveport to the river's end. The system of locks & dams is called the J. Bennett Johnson Waterway and designed to keep the water deep enough for 9ft draft vessels. The locks allow boats to pass from one elevation to another by filling or draining the lock chamber. If you are traveling upriver you will be raised and going downriver, watercraft are lowered. It is a simple process of entering an open gate, which closes behind you. After raising or lowering the second gate opens to allow you to go into that section (pool).
Locking through is easy and fun. If you have a marine radio, you can call the lock on channel 16 to request a locking. All locks also have a phone number that you can call on arrival. If those methods fail, just hang out for a little while at the end of the guide wall and the lock master will see you and open the gate. Wait for the signal horn, the proceed at no-wake speed. Once inside the chamber throw a rope over one of the floating bollards along the lock wall. Do not draw the boat tight to the wall and if you have them, hang fenders out to protect the boat from the wall while your boat slides up or down along the wall. It is best to tie the rope near the center of your boat to prevent it from swinging out. Once they have drained or filled the chamber, wait for another horn signal, then unhook your boat and proceed out, again at no-wake speed.
There is no need to feel confined to a limited section of the beautiful Red River. I have found the lock masters to be friendly and helpful. The locks on the Red River have very little commercial traffic, so there is usually no waiting for a barge to lock through. Try it sometime and discover all that the Red River has to offer.