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Jeffrey Quail

Location: Winnipeg, MB

Award: Innovation Award

Category: Survival & Safety

Year: 2009


Shocknife – a new training tool that elevates "edged weapon" attack training to an electrifying new reality. Read the News Release and Media Backgrounder for additional information

News Release

Shocking Winnipeg Invention Transforms Defence Training for Law Enforcement Officers, Soldiers

Training Knife Wins Inventor a Manning Innovation Award

Calgary, AB (August 28, 2009) - Jeff Quail of Shocknife® Inc. is to win a $10,000 Manning Innovation Award for his invention of a knife-shaped electric device that replaces fake knives in self-defence training. Quail and business partner Rory Bochinski developed, commercialized and now produce Shocknife® entirely in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Rubber, plastic or wood replica knives quite literally dull the effectiveness of defence training because they do not elicit acute stress as a real knife would. In contrast, the Shocknife® blade delivers a non-injurious but excruciating electric shock that trainees fear. As a result, the training environment is more realistic and officers and soldiers are better prepared to survive and win any future edged-weapon attack.

The device has become popular among law enforcement and military trainers across the United States and Canada, and is quickly becoming the new standard in edged-weapon self-defence training. William R. Daniel II, a Major with the US Army, says that "Shocknife® is a revolutionary product and it definitely adds a level of realism that cannot be replicated with traditional weapons training devices."

Quail, a law officer and court-declared expert in use of force and officer safety, has also developed Shocknife® instructor training courses, including an online Safety Monitor Certification course.

Over 500 agencies in 15 countries use Shocknife® to train police officers, correctional officers and soldiers in life-saving defensive tactics. Customers include the Calgary Police Service, Winnipeg Police Service and US Department of Homeland Security. Since the product's launch in late 2005, yearly sales of Shocknife®, related products and training have grown to over $700,000 Can.

All Shocknife® components are made and assembled by Winnipeg's Melet Plastics Inc. and IDERS Incorporated Ltd. Setcan™ Corporation, a sister company to Shocknife® Inc., distributes the product in Canada and offers several courses in defence tactics.

The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation

This year the Foundation will award $145,000 to leading Canadian innovators plus $20,000 to Young Canadians chosen at the 2009 Canada-Wide Science Fair.

The Foundation was established in 1980 to promote and support Canadian innovators. This Innovation Award has been sponsored by Katch Kan™ Ltd. Since 1982, the Foundation has presented over $4 million in prize money. The 2009 awards will be presented at an awards gala on Friday, September 18 in Vancouver, BC.

A Media Backgrounder about the innovator and his work is now available on the Foundation's website, with video available after September 18, 2009: www.manningawards.ca

For a photo of the innovator or more information on the Foundation, contact Bruce Fenwick, Executive Director: 403-645-8288 or bruce.fenwick@encana.com

For more information about Shocknife® and related training, visit www.shocknife.com/index.html and www.setcan.com/ or contact Shocknife® Inc. at 204-336-0011 or info@shocknife.com

Media Backgrounder

$10,000 Manning Innovation Award

Sponsored by the Arthur J. E. Child Foundation

Mr. Jeff Quail

Shocknife® - A Training Device to Simulate a Real Knife During Self-Defence Training for Police Officers, Correctional Officers and Soldiers


  • Jeff Quail is the inventor of Shocknife®, a unique self-defence training tool. Quail is a court declared expert in police officer survival.
  • Quail is a Co-Owner and the Executive Director of Shocknife Inc. and the Co-Founder and Director of Training for sister company Setcan™, which distributes Shocknife® in Canada and provides defence training.


  • Shocknife® is a knife-shaped electric device that replaces rubber, plastic or wood replica knives in defence training. The simulated blade delivers a painful but non-injurious shock that trainees do not soon forget.


  • Shocknife® is the first training weapon to induce the acute stress of a real-life attack. By making the training environment more realistic, officers and soldiers are better prepared to survive and win any future edged-weapon attack.
  • Knives and improvised edged weapons are ubiquitous and can be found in every North American home. Canadian police officers are 3.5 times more likely to be attacked with an edged weapon than a firearm. Most attacks on correctional officers are carried out with improvised edged weapons.


  • Shocknife Inc. and Setcan™ are based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. All Shocknife® components are made and assembled by Winnipeg's Melet Plastics Inc. and IDERS Incorporated Ltd.
  • Shocknife® Inc.'s growing customer base is worldwide. About 82 percent of sales are made in the United States. Shocknife® products and related training are also provided in Canada, Mexico, Argentina, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore and throughout Scandinavia.
  • Shocknife® users include police services for major Canadian cities (including Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Ottawa), as well as the Canadian Forces, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Government of India, US Department of Homeland Security, US FBI Training Academy and various US Army bases.


  • The idea for Shocknife® came to Quail several years ago while he was training police officers and recruits. In 2004, he filed for a US patent for his invention. Rory Bochinksi teamed up with Quail to form Shocknife® Inc. in 2005.
  • In November 2005, Shocknife® Inc. shipped its first 500 production units to a police department in Texas. Sales of Shocknife® and related products have risen from $15,450 in 2005, to over $700,000 in 2008.


The attacker is getting close. Your partner is shouting but his voice sounds muffled. Your mouth is dry; your hands, sweaty. Your heart pounds. Everything is moving in slow motion and it's as if you are staring down a narrow tunnel while your limbs are on automatic pilot.

The acute stress brought on by a deadly force encounter puts a person through many physiological and psychological changes, explains Jeff Quail, a court declared expert in officer survival. He has won a $10,000 Manning Innovation Award for his invention of Shocknife®, a unique self-defence training tool.

Says Quail, the stress of a real-life attack is difficult to elicit with a rubber knife. He has 20 years' plus experience as a police officer and has trained more than 1000 veteran officers and recruits in officer survival techniques. It was while teaching defensive tactics that he realized that something was missing from the training arsenal.

The scientific literature backed up what his common sense told him: people behave differently when highly stressed. "I realized there was a huge disconnect between the training we were doing and the reality of performance on the street," says Quail. "We weren't able, in training, to induce acute stress."

True fear kicks the sympathetic nervous system into high gear, causing a surge of adrenaline that tells the body to "fight, flight or freeze!" Officers need to practice performing under acute stress, says Quail. "If we don't adequately prepare them for those changes," he notes, "we're not preparing them to survive."

Quail wondered if a painful electric shock could be used to induce fear without causing injury. Pain, itself, would also make training scenarios more true to life.

At home in his workshop, Quail experimented with a cattle prod and composite plastic. The resulting device wasn't pretty, but it worked.

OK Team, Let's Play with Knives

To carry forward his electrifying concept, Quail needed a partner with business acumen. He phoned Rory Bochinski, a football buddy from his high school days. Bochinski had a commerce degree and taught entrepreneurship at their old school.

Bochinski jumped on board right away and suggested a feasibility study of the training knife. With a $6000 grant from Manitoba's Department of Industry, Economic Development and Mines to help cover their costs, they hired Phil Poetker to do the study. Poetker was so impressed with the product's potential that he happily signed on as a design consultant.

Alex McIlraith, an electronics instructor from Winnipeg's Red River Community College, helped Poetker build some working prototypes.

"I surrounded myself with a lot of smart people," says Quail. "Without them, there's no way this thing would be successful!"

Quail also enlisted the help of fellow officers and instructors to test out the new device. "For the most part, I was the guinea pig," he smiles, adding that he's been shocked so many times he's now immune to Shocknife®'s bite.

There were some kinks to work out in the early models - for example, sweat caused the electronics to short circuit - but the team persevered. The Peg's own Melet Plastics Inc. designed a soft, smooth plastic blade that would not injure the skin. IDERS Incorporated Ltd. worked with McIlraith to develop the electronics board. Together, both local companies would manufacture and assemble Shocknife®.

In November of 2005, Quail and Bochinski formally founded Shocknife® Inc. and the company placed its first order - of 500 units.

Getting Real with Shocknife®

A simple question about electronics made Quail see more potential in Shocknife® than he'd ever imagined. McIlraith had asked if it would be useful to be able to adjust the voltage on the knife. Of course it would, realized Quail.

An adjustable setting would allow instructors to "turn down the volume" for trainees starting at square one, so as not to overwhelm them. Too much stress would be counterproductive. As trainees became more skilled, instructors could crank up the voltage.

Furthermore, an adjustable Shocknife® could serve as a stress inoculation tool to help trainees gradually adapt to stressful situations, much the way someone with arachnophobia can eventually get used to spiders.

By January 2008 the company had two new Shocknife® models on the market - the StressBlade™, an entry level training tool, and SK-2, an adjustable Shocknife® with four settings. On "low", the shock feels like a paper cut; on "extreme", like a cut to the bone.

Both models run on a standard 9-volt battery. At most, they deliver 7500 volts and less than a milliamp of current. (In contrast, a taser, which is designed to incapacitate, delivers about 50,000 volts.)

To fool the brain into believing the body has been cut, Shocknife® delivers the electric impulse to a narrow band of pain receptors in the skin. It is very realistic, affirms Brad Gillespie, a Canadian Armed Forces Navy Diver. Says Gillespie, "I have survived two knife attacks and can tell you that the Shocknife® felt exactly like the real cuts I experienced but without the injuries."

Even so, just the fear of pain makes Shocknife® an effective training tool. Says Quail, "anticipation of how bad that pain will be will always be worse than the actual pain."

A New Standard in Defence Training

A worldwide shift to more effective, more realistic training for law enforcement personnel is helping to make Shocknife® the new standard for edge-weapon self-defence training.

John Harris, an Inspector with the Atlantic Police Academy in PEI, says that the correctional officer Cadets he trains react very differently to Shocknife® than to a fake plastic knife. Cadets do not feel threatened by a plastic replica knife, he says, and will usually try to grab it or disarm the offender. Adds Harris, "what the Shocknife® did was add an excellent element of reality to the scenario, and it sure made them think of those other options."

To ensure that trainers use Shocknife® safely and effectively, Quail has created an Online Safety Monitor Certification Course. He has also developed an in person edged-weapon defence course for instructors, which he and a team of Shocknife®/Setcan™ representatives deliver at centres across Canada and the United States. Quail offers this and other defence tactics courses through his and Bochinski's other company, Setcan™ Corporation, launched in 2006.

Made in Canada

It was thanks to a grant from Manitoba's Technology Assistance Program and a $30,000 grant from the province's Technology Commercialization Program that Shocknife® Inc. had sufficient resources to introduce its revolutionary product to the world.

Today, the company is working on prototypes for a special vest to be used in firearms training.

Both Quail and Bochinski are committed to keeping the "made in Canada" stamp on Shocknife®. "We believe in Canada," says Quail, "and we believe in our culture, and the work ethic, and the competency of the people here. And, we're proud."

Nevertheless, Quail finds being on the end of a Manning Innovation Award "beyond humbling."

Ultimately, says Quail, it's about saving lives - the lives of officers and the distressed people who need their help.

The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation

This year the Foundation will award $165,000 in prize money. Four awards, totalling $145,000, will go to leading Canadian innovators. Another $20,000 will go to Young Canadians chosen at the 2009 Canada-Wide Science Fair. The Foundation was established in 1980 in the name of prominent Alberta statesman, Ernest C. Manning, to promote and support Canadian innovators. Since 1982, the Foundation has presented over $4 million in prize money through its annual awards program (www.manningawards.ca).