If your engine is back firing you do not necessarily have to live with it, or take it to a mechanic. There are many things you can do to have your engine run like new again. Most of these things can be done with a common set of wrenches.
The first thing you will want to do before trying any of these tricks is to buy yourself a repair manual for your specific vehicle. This will be very handy because it will tell you where everything is on your vehicle so that you can easily find it when you need to, as well as tell you how to do regular maintenance.
Now that you are ready to start trying to fix your backfiring problem, the first thing you should do is locate your distributor. There is a chance that it got bumped off place and needs to be put back to where it should be. Loosen the bolt that holds the distributor to the engine block. Once it is just loose enough for the distributor to turn a little stop. You do not need it to loose for what you are trying to do. Now put the distributor back to where it was and start your engine. Be very careful as you go back to your engine and begin to move the distributor. If you feel uncomfortable being next to the moving belts and fans, you might not want to do this. Remember safety first. Gently move the distributor in one direction until it starts to get worse. If it does not get better try to turn it in the other direction. Find the spot where it runs the best and tighten the bolt until the thing distributor is secure.
Another thing that can possibly be causing the backfire is a bad spark plug. Take out your spark plugs, one at a time so that you do not accidentally mistake one of the wires for another one and then have to search for which spark plug wire goes to which one. If one of your spark plugs is oil fouled or is slightly odd, that is probably your problem. You will probably not be able to repair the spark plug so you should just replace them if they need to be replaced.
If that does not solve your problem you might need to reset the valves. The Repair manual should tell you how to do this. And give you the specifications on the spaces and other details your car needs. Some cars even require you to drop the engine. I would recommend that you not do this, because it is extremely tricky and usually requires special equipment.