No preparation is required; as said above, you'll probably do just fine, and if you don't it won't be because of the noise.
Originally Posted by SIGCrazie
Being a military weapons range safety NCO for the better part of 15 years, I was exposed to hazardous noise in the form of gunfire on a regular basis. Starting in the (early?) 80s, all the folks in my field were regularly tested for hearing loss, so I had an initial/baseline and annual followup audiometric tests that documented my hearing acuity.
As an active hunter, I never used hearing protection during bird, small game, or deer hunts; only while calling fur animals or varminting did I wear ear plugs or muffs. Plinking outdoors with .22 rifles in open areas also didn't merit any protection within my group of fellow shooters; only when the handguns or larger rifles came out did we "plug up." In retrospect, this was stupid, but back in those days the hazard just wasn't communicated in a way that young males cared about; however, the macho man/ego threat was always front-and-center.
After a few incidents where shooters in training fired rifles AFTER the cease-fire command (and after most of us had removed our ear protection), in semi-enclosed concrete ranges, several of us were put on quarterly audiograms. During those years, you could SEE the hearing loss on the charts, especially after hunting season; being a left-handed shotgunner, my right ear is closest to the muzzle, and in the late fall tests I always had problems in that right ear. Sometimes it was just the ringing sound in my head masking the sound I was supposed to hear during the test; after the ringing subsided, my hearing temporarily "improved". However, the long-term charts were unmistakable -- peaks and valleys aside, the trend was always downward.
I can tell you that I have also been unlucky enough to hear (unprotected) a short-barreled .22 handgun in a living room, a 9mm in an apartment dining room, a 12-gauge in a poured-concrete armory room, and a .30-06 a few tables away in a gunshow exhibit hall; and while the sharpness of the noise always surprised me, none of them came close to causing me enough pain to prevent proper mind/body functioning in the next few moments. It gets really quiet though, even if there are a lot of people in the room, right after something like that happens...
Nowadays, I often don't hear the small birds singing; my wife comments on them, and I nod, but sometimes I simply don't know what she's talking about. If I try to slip the car keys in my coat pocket and miss, dropping multiple keys on the concrete, I might not hear them hit; where a drop on the wood deck at home with its lower-pitched "thump" will always register.
Folks, PLEASE, always wear the plugs/muffs, or even both, if the gun is big/bad enough. Once it's gone, you don't get your hearing back, and the worst part is, the nature of gradual hearing loss is such that many people simply never know what they are missing. Every day. For the rest of their lives.
(DJ climbs down off of his soapbox, but doesn't hear the creak it makes when he does so)
"Placement is power" -- seen in an article by Stephen A. Camp
(RIP, Mr. Camp; you will be remembered, and missed)