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Self-Protection – Trust instincts, learn to control environment

Jeffry Boatright, left, and Jack Blair from Defensive Firearms and Training Academy (DFTA) demonstrate handgun techniques.

Staff Reports

Local residents gathered on the morning of January 19, for a self-protection seminar at Jo Kennon Public Library in Dowling Park. The seminar, which was presented by Defensive Firearms and Training Academy (DFTA) of Live Oak, was one of the many programs that the public library offers to area residents.

Participants welcomed the common-sense approach to self-protection that was presented by Jack Blair and Jeffry Boatright of DFTA. While numerous defensive techniques were presented to those in attendance, Blair emphasized the best option for self-protection is to avoid potentially aggressive situations altogether. The next best option, according to Blair, is to defuse a situation and find resolve. When that isn’t possible, he explained, and there is no option to escape a confrontation, potential victims must be fully committed to protecting themselves or others.

Describing criminals as manipulative, and often perceiving kindness for weakness, Blair stressed that we must trust our instincts. He pointed out the importance of maintaining a constant awareness of our surroundings and staying alert. “While we can’t change criminal thinking, we can control our environment at home, while shopping, in our vehicles and when walking,” Blair stated.

Blair and Boatright shared many useful tips and strategies to employ at home, while traveling, running errands or even enjoying leisurely activities. According to Library Aide Cameron Smith, those tips and strategies can benefit almost anyone.


Jack Blair carefully explains the techniques of disarming an assailant while he and Jeffry Boatright (left) presented a Defensive Firearm and Training Academy seminar at Jo Kennon Public Library in Dowling Park. -Photo: Submitted

“The Defensive Firearm and Training Academy course by Jack Blair and Jeffry Boatright was full of helpful and practical information,” Smith stated. “They do a great job presenting ideas for self-protection, and avoiding threatening situations that are simple and doable for almost any person.”

According to Smith, Blair and Boatright have combined their experience to make participants of the course aware of threats that most people would not think of or realize. Smith added that the course also makes everyone comfortable with engaging in simple self-protection techniques. “I would recommend the course to just about any age group,” Smith commented.

A major goal of DFTA is to indeed help participants feel comfortable and relaxed. “If our clients are comfortable in what they’re doing, they’ll be better at it and continue to train,” Blair explained. “One essential key to self-protection is identifying and capitalizing on individual strengths and abilities.”

Blair, who is an instructor at TDS Martial Arts, is a black-belt instructor with over three decades of experience in multiple disciplines of martial arts. He partnered with Boatright in 2016 to develop a hybrid self-protection course. Boatright, a certified firearms instructor, first approached Blair with his concern that firearms are not always a viable option. The pair began combining their knowledge, conducting research, and training together to develop the course. Their philosophy is simple: attackers have a plan, why shouldn’t you?

“Certainly, I’m an avid supporter of the Second Amendment and concealed carry,” Boatright explained. “There are many occasions or instances, however, that using a firearm is neither possible nor feasible.”


During the January 19 seminar, which was presented by Defensive Firearms and Training Academy at Jo Kennon Public Library in Dowling Park. Jack Blair demonstrated how to effectively escape a chokehold. -Photo: Submitted

Participants attending the presentation at Jo Kennon Public Library learned that time does not always permit a potential victim to retrieve a concealed firearm, and effectively using that firearm is, at times, impossible. Blair also stressed the legal and criminal ramifications of using lethal force in situations that might only require non-lethal force.

In addition to self-protection techniques, such as weapon disarmament, deflecting blows and escaping a chokehold, participants were introduced to various methods of disabling an assailant.

“God has given us precious life, and it is not up to a criminal to determine when that life on Earth should end,” DFTA Instructor Jack Blair said.

Several self-protection tools, ranging from firearms to pepper spray and effective electronic equipment were discussed during the two-hour seminar, with DFTA instructor explaining some advantages and disadvantages of each. Blair told participants that every situation is different, and there are no right answers, reactions or tools that are ideal in every situation.

According to Blair, the best practice is to keep criminals out and away, but sadly, they can be family members, friends, caregivers, or other people you know.

“There was a time when we could generally look at someone and have a good sense of his or her character, but not anymore,” Boatright added.

The seminar offered participants a glance of the six-hour Weapon Disablement and Protection Techniques hybrid course that DFTA offers. In addition to the six-hour hybrid course, DFTA offers various other courses that include two-hour simulated firearms training and the eight-hour NRA Basic Pistol Shooting course.
To schedule a course with DFTA or learn more about their upcoming and available courses, please visit them online at


Defensive Firearms and Training Academy Instructors Jack Blair and Jeffry Boatright emphasized situational awareness during their January 19 seminar at Jo Kennon Public Library in Dowling Park. -Photo: Submitted