Thanks very much for everybody's advice.
Did a lot
of boarding ops over the weekend and opened myself to different tactics. Switched my engine from Sidewinder to Supercharged for a while but ended up settling on Equalized for the balance of maneuvering around stations at a tolerable pace and chasing down boosting freighters. Bought Plasma Cannon Mk3 and Railgun Mk1. These and advice from you gentlemen and practice ended up changing my style quite a bit. Much more sniping with the railgun now, which one-shots unshielded HIT/MA turrets and two-shots unshielded Plasma/MA turrets, rather than prairie-dogging with the Heavy Laser. I do kinda miss the Heavy Laser, though, but the Railgun seems to bypass shields, too.
Captured a number of Rahanas and Titurel over that time. Early on I wasn't paying attention and sent a Rahanas on a trade to Verdant Profit where it died, then I went on a revenge-capture spree against Phoenix Marauders there, which are pretty broken to farm because of their unpragmatic script and selling price. Traitor drones help make quick work of them, along with their convenient parking spot up front.
I'm considering not buying ships at all and forming my entire fleet from captures, even though the Omicron Lyrae ships are really nice. Haven't bought any ships so far, actually.
Discovered the gold mine of assassination missions. First one was a Hard mission against a Light Sul and Balor escort. Ended up destroying the Balor while sitting just outside its missile range. Seems strange that it should fire Novadrones but never throttle them up to 1000 m/s.
Later I took an assassination mission that was "Very Hard" but showed a Titurel as the target's ship. I thought, "okay, I could use another Titurel, but those are usually Medium difficulty". Then they spawned and I discovered its escort was an Arawn. Disabled the Titurel before it got in range of the station while the Arawn was lagging above it, and then it took well over 2 hours working at range and up close to bring the Arawn to the point there I could board it.
Now have 20 Elites and 30 Veterans, capturing Rahanas and Titurels fairly intact, even with their Construction URVs.
Anymore I just capture Rahanas to train marines, harvest drones, and sell the ship if they present themselves as a target of opportunity and I have the time.